(PHOTO CREDIT: NASA VIA GETTY IMAGES)
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Buried deep in the $38 billion 2011 fiscal budget bill - that one that was hastily passed by Congress before its spring break and hurried over to President Obama to sign - is a $3 billion provision for NASA to build a new rocket and space capsule. That’s $3 billion for a space ship. Wonderful.
While lawmakers fought for six months over nickels and dimes for programs such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Planned Parenthood and Pell Grants for college tuition, billions had been set aside for a space rocket. So much for all that big talk about cutting spending.
But this is nothing new, according to the political news website Politico. Lawmakers from states where NASA and the corporations typically awarded its contracts operate have long pushed for the continuation of space programs, even when they aren't exactly popular. These are states such as Alabama, Maryland, Texas and Utah.
Lawmakers from those states insist their support of projects like this one stems from the overall importance of the U.S. space program, and they say the value goes far beyond job creation in their own states.
But you've got to wonder how much value a trip to the moon can really provide when the growing debt problem is sinking this country to new lows.
Plus there's that old phrase, "Been there, done that."
Oh and those major U.S. companies such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin that stand to be awarded big-time contracts to build this rocket and space capsule? They probably have a little something to do with this.
Boeing reportedly spent about $18 million on lobbying last year, and its political action committee contributed more than $2.2 million in the last election cycle. Lockheed Martin spent about $16 million on lobbyists, and its PAC donated more than $3.5 million in 2009 and 2010.
You want to know who really runs the country?
Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. space program be a priority during a budget crisis?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Lisa in San Jose, California:
Yes, the space program should be a priority. Money spent on the space program isn't spent in space; it is spent here on the ground and results in technologies that we can all use here at home. The benefits of NASA's research aren't always obvious up front, but in retrospect you can find a ton of useful technologies with origins in NASA's basic research. This is 'seed corn' for U.S. technological competitiveness; we need to invest in it.
Larry in Georgetown, Texas:
No, it should be cut. But what do I know? I wouldn't send $25 million that we don't have to Libyan rebels either but we are.
James Greenville, N.C.:
Let's forget about the U.S. space program and concentrate on the space between our ears and the space between what the government is spending and what we have in the bank. I truly believe our problems are a little closer to home than outer space.
Lori in Pennsylvania:
Our money would be better spent coming up with an affordable alternative to oil.
Cliff in Rego Park, New York:
Until NASA can show the advantage of manned flights over one-way space probes and satellites, most preferably with House Republican leadership as cargo, there are much bigger budget priorities here on Earth.
Don in Westport, Massachusetts:
Yes. We need to keep moving forward with the space program. It may save our lives one day when our planet just can't support us any more. The way we are going, that day does not seem to far away.
Greg in Arkansas:
Keeping the U.S. space program a priority during a national budget crisis is like me making my bass boat a priority if I were having a budget crisis at home. But it all depends on who gets to vote on what gets cut. Health care and food for the kids or a weekend on the lake? It's an easy guess which way my wife and kids would vote.