For all the complaining I do about finance and taxes and government the reason boils down to science and education. I think that education in general and science in particular are the most important things that government doesn't seem to have trouble cutting. At the state level it makes some sense that they cut education heavily when bad times hit: education is frequently the largest thing in a state's budget. The problem is federal.
We have massive entitlement programs (which I support) and an enormous military (which I think is way too pricey). Everything else is small by comparison, and yet every time that spending cuts are brought down it falls on everything else (which is actually non-defense discretionary spending). The result is that everything else actually has very little in the way of waste compared to the big ones that never get touched, which means that any cutting there really hurts.