"I probably shouldn't speak of obstructionists. Nobody is an obstructionist any more-or an isolationist. They may look as if they are; they may talk as if they are; they may act as if they are. But they're not. They're simply legislators who believe firmly in economy, which is a noble aim. Not economy on pork-barrel legislation, of course, or on other things where money can be saved effectively- just economy on the things that really win for us, economy when economy comes high."
That quote is from Herblock, specifically talking about cuts being made to foreign aid during the years 1947-1952. But it speaks almost as well to our current problems, where legislators on both sides of the aisle are prepared to make drastic cuts on life-saving (and quality-of-life-saving) social programs that have long demonstrated how effective they are, especially for the price tag.
By contrast, I doubt the $35 billion that Boeing got handed this week to construct fuel tankers will do much for anyone who isn't a Boeing executive or one of the Congressmen in their pocket.
It's depressing, both in the cuts being made, and that legislators haven't changed much in more than 50 years.