Astrophysics: Basic and Applied Research
America has spent a lot on astrophysics, the main expense being, I imagine, the great telescopes. They were designed to gaze upon the most distant portions of the universe.
If someone were to say that America was short on cash, to point out we had a nine trillion dollar debt, one might be inclined to save money.
As far as I can see, there are only two branches of applied astrophysics... 1) looking for habitable planets, and, 2) watching for intelligent (potentially dangerous) life.
I love science, and would want to keep every scientist on the payroll during these tough times, but I'd like to remove the mere thought of another multi-billion dollar Hubble Space Telescope from the table. The salaries, I suspect, are pennies in comparison.