I wish I could say I did not see this coming but I did. NASA does have some serious internal problems regarding their mission, often corrupted by political machinations, and most effective use of their time and money. It is these problems that have led to the rising number of private space firms that may very well one day surpass NASA. Not yet, but easily within twenty years given current trends.
Even if the economy was good, NASA would have been hit because of the political winds in Washington trying to push their social agendas without care for advances in science and technology that don’t push the politicians narrow minded agendas. NASA is a favorite target given few Americans have even the slightest concept of just how little funding the space agency gets. Combine that with the average American’s ignorance of what benefits they get from the agency and your guaranteed to see their budget cut with little complaint from the unaware masses.