Pres. Obama and space exploration.

Pres. Obama is probably going to try to kill the space program.

I deplore this.

This is a move that we should all reject, rebuke and protest.

Mr. President… if you are going to cut something, try the Department of Education.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Choirmaster says:

    Amen! And the EPA, IRS, FBI, DEA, FCC, FDA, ATF, DoI, etc.

    Let’s keep the CIA and the DoD.

  2. JCP says:

    Why don’t we just cut everything that isn’t included in the enumerated powers of the Constitution? This includes NASA, everything Choirmaster suggests, and how about the National Endowment of the Arts, SEC, Social Security Administration, etc etc.

  3. Eric says:

    Amen chiormaster. Especially the DoI. They’re obviously confused and misguided. Their whole focus is on things going on OUTDOORS. :-)

  4. Incaelo says:

    It seems to be a very mixed bag: no money for programs that’ll get us to the Moon, Mars and asteroids, but there will be extra funds for continued operation of the ISS (which is a good thing!). But NASA won’t have its own means to get into orbit, and will have to rely on unproven private companies and Russia’s ultra-reliable Soyuz spacecraft. That is not a healthy foundation for what is the world’s largest space agency.

  5. EXCHIEF says:

    What WAS the world’s largest space agency.

  6. Henry Edwards says:

    Money spent on the space program is money well spent. It results both in good jobs here on earth, and generates new technology and economic activity that results in increased government revenue.

    It would be quite inconsistent for the present administration to support a program that is effective in so many ways. If the space program is to get funding, it must figure how to totally waste the money.

  7. SimonDodd says:

    JCP, the Constitution provides for federal laws and federal taxation, and it provides Congress with authority to create governmental departments to aid the President in enforcing the laws and collecting taxes. Is there an “FBI clause”? No. That does not mean, however, that in creating the FBI, Congress went beyond its enumerated powers.

    Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for limiting the federal government to its proper place in the federal system. Given my druthers, I would overrule Wickard and Garcia, returning to E.C. Knight and National League of Cities. But we must understand that “enumerated powers” doesn’t mean simply those things explicitly provided for in the text. That should be obvious, if not as a matter of common sense then of originalism. If you won’t take reasonable implication and demand a textual justification, though, I suggest that just as Jn 21:25 lays waste to sola scriptura, so too the necessary and proper clause lays waste to a theory of “explicitly enumerated powers.”

  8. Killing the space program would be incredibly short-sighted (just as short-sighted as when the government killed the Apollo program — with several all ready built Saturn V’s available — because we had “beaten the Russians”.

    The technological spin-off into the private sector from the space program is incalculably huge.

  9. Choirmaster says:

    SimonDodd said:

    That does not mean, however, that in creating the FBI, Congress went beyond its enumerated powers.

    Of course, there is no problem with an FBI as it was originally conceived: an investigative agency the assists legitimate [local] law enforcement by collecting and analyzing information gained from criminal investigation.

    The powers of the Executive, as enumerated in the Constitution, do not provide him with the power to arrest and detain citizens. Nor does the Constitution provide Congress with the power to grant powers that are not enumerated in the same.

    In fact, the Constitution specifically denies those powers to the Legislator and the Executive and reserves them to the sovereign States or to the People.

  10. Choirmaster says:

    As far as NASA is concerned, I don’t see how it is specifically provided for in the Constitution, but a good case could be made that NASA is an instrumental agency in providing for the common defense.

    Maybe it is better placed under the auspices of the DoD?

  11. Thom says:

    It would be a good start, but I’d be very surprised if this actually happens.

  12. momravet says:

    Obama is just a politician who can’t deliver an extemporaneous speech. He has no interest in actually leading this country. He is, by inattention, going to get us into a third war in Yemen and will continue to use the same overworked regular, reserve, and national guard troops to do it. He has no original thoughts, no leadership skills, and no dreams that don’t involve putting his hands in everyone’s pockets to support his communist schemes. St. Michael, deliver us!

  13. TJerome says:

    “I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was my friend, and you’re no Jack Kennedy.” That quote was a slam directed at Dan Quayle but could be applied equally
    to Obama. The left-wing loon Democrats of today conveniently forget that Kennedy was intensley pro-America, he cuts taxes to get the economy moving again,
    and was no ideologue like the current occupant of the White House.

  14. SimonDodd says:

    Choirmaster, you don’t think that the “executive power” vested in the President includes the power to conduct law enforcement, a fortiori given his (or her) charge to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed”? With all due respect, your reading seems quite idiosyncratic. The terms “leigislative power,” “executive power,” and “judicial power” aren’t empty words, blank screens onto which we can project anything we wish (including, as some seem to suppose peculiarly in the case of the executive power, nothing at all). Rather, they have content established by the original meaning, which includes terms of art. See District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008) (slip op. at 3) (noting that the original meaning “may of course include an idiomatic meaning, but it excludes secret or technical meanings that would not have been known to ordinary citizens in the founding generation”); cf., e.g., United States v. Ramsey, 431 U.S. 606 (1977) (noting the inherent executive power to conduct border searches); Coleman v. Miller, 307 U.S. 433, 460 (1939) (“In endowing this Court with ‘judicial Power,’ the Constitution presupposed an historic content for that phrase”).

    Moreover, once it is conceded that the federal government may have laws, it seems terribly difficult to maintain both of these propositions at once: that the Constitution does not allow for the federal government to enforce its own laws, requiring instead that it merely “assist[] legitimate [local] law enforcement” in doing so (emphasis deleted; second alteration in original), and that the federal government may not commandeer see Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997). That would suggest two daunting conclusions. First, that the Constitution demanded the President enforce the laws while leaving him powerless to enforce them, whether by his own authority alone or bolstered by statute (cf. Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579, 635-38 (1952) (Jackson, J., concurring)). Second, that the framers left the federal government at the mercy of state cooperation—which was precisely the problem that had hamstrung the continental government and which the Constitution was written to solve. Cf. The Federalist, no. 59 (noting in a distinct but analogous context that “every government ought to contain in itself the means of its own preservation”).

    Your invocation of the 10th Amendment doesn’t work here. To be sure, you’re right that the amendment does more work than twentieth century supreme court has allowed. Or perhaps, more precisely, like the Eleventh Amendment it confirms the original understanding and thus does work beyond its express terms. Compare United States v. Darby, 312 U.S. 100, 124 (1941), with New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144 (1992). Nevertheless, the Tenth Amendment’s reservation to the states (to the extent granted to the states by their people, which is the accurate meaning of “or the people” in that clause) of those “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution” will bear no wait once it is demonstrated that a given power is delegated to the United States. And the power to enforce its own laws is assuredly delegated to the United States to the extent that the power of a sovereign government to enforce its laws requires delegation in the first place.

    There is much that the federal government does that is unconstitutional. Enforcement of its own laws (to the extent those laws are themselves constitutional) does not belong in that category.

  15. SimonDodd says:

    [Errata: Sorry, that should be weight not wait in the ppenultimate paragraph.]

  16. ajwagner54 says:

    Yeah, let’s cut the Department of Education, and then we won’t have any pesky qualified American engineers or astronauts anymore. We can just hire them from the UK and Canada and China and India.

  17. ajwagner54 says:

    Also, in response to Tom’s comment about Kennedy, JFK cut the top marginal income tax rate from 90% to 58% or thereabouts. Today it is about 35-40%. Want to go back to 58%?

  18. TJerome says:

    aiwagner54, the quality of American education, evidence by a myriad of criteria, has declined significantly since the Department of Education was created.
    Just like most federal bureaucracies, they are not about addressing real problems but vesting power in the federal government. I don’t need a nanny state
    nor as a Catholic, do I worship the state.

    In terms of the tax rates in Jack Kennedy’s time, there were far more deductions or exclusions then, than there are today. The tax burden (taxes actually
    collected )on the highest paying taxpayers has gone up significantly in the last 20 years, common to popular myth perpetrated by a pro-statist media. If
    this president and his clown Congress raise taxes now, more jobs will be lost, and hence, there will be less revenue going to the federal government.
    Socialism works until you run out of other peoples money.

    I never got a job from a poor person, have you?

  19. TJerome says:

    Some edifying reading. This is posted on the internet. Enjoy!
    February 14, 2006
    The Myth of Spending Cuts for the Poor, Tax Cuts for the Rich
    by Brian M. Riedl
    Backgrounder #1912

  20. B Knotts says:


    Is it your claim that there were no American engineers or astronauts before 1979?

  21. Mark Pavlak says:

    Amen to that, Fr. Z! Reminds me of a tidbit from “Yes, Prime Minister” – one of the most brilliant shows ever created. [AMEN!]
    For your enjoyment:

  22. Choirmaster says:

    SimonDodd, I understand completely that the Supreme Court has upheld many unconstitutional actions of the United States, but I cannot agree that 10th Amendment does not mean exactly what it says!

    There is only one way to read it. If the power is not expressly enumerated and granted to the United States, then, no matter what intervening history has produced, those powers are reserved to the State.

    And, yes, the Federal Government is and of right ought to be at the mercy of cooperative sovereign states.

    The Executive is, first and foremost, the Head of State and the Commander in Chief. It was not envisaged as a national constabulary or police force. The President is not the highest ranking law enforcement official in the United States, but, rather, it’s the County Sherrif.

  23. TNCath says:

    I wonder what Teddy Kennedy would think of President Obama’s attempt to kill the space program that is arguably one of the finest legacies President Kennedy left.

    Mark my words: the Clintons are watching this Presidents missteps with great interest and delight. It will be very interesting to see what Hillary’s plans for 2012 are.

  24. TNCath says:

    Mea culpa: In my previous post, I should have used the possesive form “President’s.”

  25. Melania says:

    Along with shafting the space program, Obama is also shorting U.S. aid to Africa to fight AIDS, the program initiated by George W. Bush. Of course, he is also assuring that abortion is funded with the money that is sent there.

    I thought Democrats were supposed to be “for the poor.”

    Yes, the Dept. of Education is just another reason to centralize more power in Washington and add more federal employees (people likely to vote Democrat) to the payroll. It needs to go.

  26. Jon says:

    Sorry Father (and Henry), I have to differ with you there.

    If the solomonic hand of Gouverneur Morris didn’t put it in the Constitution, well, the federal government has no business spending my money on it.

    On the other hand, should Bill Gates and Steve Jobs want to send Alice to the moon or team up to put little tricycles on Mars, I’m all for it.

  27. Choirmaster says:

    Jon, what do you think of my idea of placing NASA under the auspices of the Department of Defense, with the thought that it directly benefits the Constitutional mandate to “provide for the common defense”?

    This would give the feds every right to put money into it!

  28. SimonDodd says:

    Choirmaster, I didn’t say that it doesn’t mean what it says. To the contrary, I agreed that it means what it says, and, like the Eleventh Amendment (cf. my post here (discussing the intersection of originalism, the Eleventh Amendment, and sovereign immunity in Alden v. Maine), perhaps means even more! In fact, I by-and-large agree with Justice O’Connor: either by its own operation or as confirmation of the constitution’s self-evident presupposition of and structural commitment to federalism, “the Tenth Amendment restrains congressional action that would impair a state’s ability to function as a state.” FERC v. Mississippi, 456 U.S. 742, 777 (1982) (O’Connor, J, dissenting) (internal quotation marks omitted).

    Meanwhile, ironically enough—and again, with respect, since I think we are in much closer agreement on this general subject than this particular disagreement might imply—you are saying that the “10th Amendment does not mean exactly what it says.” As Justice Black complained in Griswold v. Connecticut, “[o]ne of the most effective ways of diluting or expanding a constitutionally guaranteed right is to substitute for the crucial word or words of a constitutional guarantee another word or words, more or less flexible and more or less restricted in meaning.” 381 U.S. 479, 509 (1965) (Black, J., dissenting). So: what, “exactly” (exactitude being your demand above), does the Tenth Amendment say? It reserves to the states “[t]he powers not delegated to the United States” (emphasis added). Yet you ask us to accept as “what the tenth amendment says” a reformulation, which, by contrast, would reserve to the states “the power[s] … not expressly enumerated and granted to the United States” (emphasis added). That is not “exactly” what the amendment says, it is a substitution for the crucial words in the amendment of other words, more or less flexible and more or less restricted in meaning. Even if we assume for sake of argument that “delegated” and “enumerated” are synonyms (or at least roughly cognate), by adding the modifier “expressly,” you don’t let the Tenth Amendment mean what it says—you ask it to mean what it, summed with your interpolation, say.

    As (IIRC) Karl Keating’s book Catholicism and Fundamentalism points out, mistaking an interpretation—one’s own gloss on the text—for the text itself is a common error. To be sure, your position is a plausible interpretation—but it is interpretation nevertheless, there is not “only one way to read it,” and your reading is not one that is likely to attract much considered support.

  29. SimonDodd says:

    TNcath, I can’t prove it, but I suspect that hobbling any intentions which Hillary may harbor for a 2012 primary challenge is one purpose of this “Game Change” book. From what friends have told me, the authors douse her, more than any other candidate, in mud. Perhaps I’m too suspicious: sometimes an unflattering portrait is accurate. But it would hardly be the first time the media has run interference for this President.

  30. Choirmaster says:

    SimonDodd said:

    …I think we are in much closer agreement on this general subject than this particular disagreement might imply…

    Well said. You’re probably right, but I have no patience when it comes to this subject, and I always employ an idealistically strict interpretation when reading the constitution!

    At least, I think, we can agree that, putting the Constitutional question aside, the FBI was not originally conceived as an agency akin to a national constabulary or a national police force. After all, the name itself (Federal Bureau of Investigation) does not imply engaging or policing activity.

    Or have I missed the point entirely?

  31. Paul Rimmer says:

    As someone who does astronomy, I find myself conflicted about this decision.

    On the one hand, cutting the space program would result in both a loss of our national prestige, as well as a retardation of the rate in which we produce space technology, and so the time by which we will genuinely be able to explore the stars.

    The other hand is weighted by two aspects. First, NASA has been spending its money at times on programs that most astronomers consider to be silly; I need to be careful here, because my project is currently receiving NASA funding. Secondly, on average, the science that the NSF is funding is more interesting to scientists, if less practical, than the science that NASA funds. Since a member of Obama’s administration, the one responsible for securing funding for the sciences, stated at my university that money garnered from cutting NASA would be funneled, in part, into NSF grants, this means that, from my perspective, cutting NASA would be a good thing (if the reciprocal increase to NSF actually occurs, and is handled far better than the NIH grants were, as the overview of the future budget would suggest).

    The other problem with cutting NASA funding is that the most interesting programs will likely be the first to go (though these will likely be picked up by NSF money).

    I am overall tentatively in favor of cutting NASA’s budget (though maybe not to the degree Obama might desire), and also of cutting the DOD.

    Maybe it’s a good thing I’m not very active in politics.

  32. Christina says:

    I can’t say I care much for the space program, but if it would cut the Department of Education, well, we should head for Orion’s belt. Take that money you were going to use to “reward” teachers (in already rich districts) and use it to launch a rocket in the playground of a school in rural Appalachia. Watch the children’s interest in science grow.

  33. chironomo says:

    I’m not a scientist by any means, but I did grow up in awe of the space program and was inspired to learn by the images and accomplishments of our orbiting the earth and eventually going to the moon. Maybe NASA is past it’s time…but to scrap the idea of space exploration is cultural suicide.

    My understanding has been that NASA was kept seperate from the DoD to avoid the appearance to the former Soviet Union that it was a military endeavor rather than a scientific one. the irony was that our first men went into orbit atop converted ICBM’s (the Redstone series). I’m not sure I would want a space program under the direct control of the military.

  34. jesusthroughmary says:

    Christina –

    The ED is a creation of Jimmy Carter and Tip O’Neill. Do you honestly think that the last 30 years have been the high point of the history of American education?

  35. Ferde Rombola says:

    “Also, in response to Tom’s comment about Kennedy, JFK cut the top marginal income tax rate from 90% to 58% or thereabouts. Today it is about 35-40%. Want to go back to 58%?”


    Absolutely not!!! I want it back to 90% over 10 million where it belongs.

  36. Ferde Rombola says:

    Let me add, if you can’t make it on ten million a year, get a tin cup and go pound the pavement.

  37. wanda says:

    I think we could fund the Space Program quite nicely if all the money (yours and mine) un-leashed world-wide by the current administration to pay for abortion and contraception was diverted instead to NASA.

  38. tioedong says:

    Just think of all the technology devised as a side effect of the space program, from GPS to microchips.

    But Ferde’s comments on supporting overly high tax rates ignore that the rich can just move elsewhere and use tax shelters so they didn’t really pay those high rates…the real result was less taxes collected…

  39. kelleyb says:

    Unlike the Department of Education, NASA teaches science to our children,

  40. catholicmidwest says:

    That’s because he’s an idiot and has not one whiff of a idea about science or math. (Can’t you tell he doesn’t get math by looking at his economic plans?)

    He thinks the USA has 57 states. Look it up on youtube if you don’t believe me (sparing you the link, Fr Z). The video speaks for itself.

  41. catholicmidwest says:

    If they cut the education department, learning would probably go up. The highest achievement scores ever recorded in this country were recorded in the midst of the Great Depression. Strange but true.

  42. thepapalbull says:

    Cut the FBI?! Thats absolutely ridiculous!

  43. muckemdanno says:

    The space program should be funded by those who are interested in the space program.

    Why steal money from the rest of us for that?

    How about we tax all the people in order to fund the Mets pitching staff, since I am in favor of that…

  44. bookworm says:

    But Father! But Father! I thought the whole reason we HAD a Department of Education was to insure that enough of our kids would grow up to be rocket scientists so we could beat the Russkies and the Chinese and the Japanese and everyone else to the moon, or Mars, or Alpha Centauri, or wherever. :-)

    Seriously, though, as far back as I can remember, the U.S. government and media go through these periodic bouts of panic over the “substandard” performance of our nation’s schools, which in turn leads to comparisons with the “superior” education offered in nations such as Japan which are “beating” us in high technology, space exploration, research, etc., which in turns leads to more demands for national standards and greater school funding, which in turn leads to debacles such as No Child Left Behind… lather, rinse, repeat.

  45. Ed the Roman says:


    Treason. Espionage. Counterfeiting.

    Who makes arrests for these crimes without the FBI?

  46. bookworm says:

    “Treason. Espionage. Counterfeiting. Who makes arrests for these crimes without the FBI?”

    I don’t know about treason or espionage, but the Secret Service could handle counterfeiting — in fact that’s what the agency was originally created to do. According to Wikipedia, “the Secret Service was commissioned on July 5, 1865 in Washington, D.C. as the “Secret Service Division” of the Department of the Treasury and was originally tasked with the suppression of counterfeiting. Ironically, the legislation creating the agency was on Abraham Lincoln’s desk the night he was assassinated.”

    It wasn’t until 1902, after two more presidents had been assassinated (Garfield and McKinley), that the Secret Service took on the duty of protecting the POTUS and other officials. Until 2003 it was a part of the Treasury Department; now it is under Homeland Security.

  47. TJerome says:

    ferde is overlooking the fact that the “evil” rich spend a lot of money (which creates jobs forl sorts of folks). If you kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, or chase them to friendly climes, what does that get you. Nothing. Also
    I seem to recall there is a Commandment against stealing. 90% approaches theft on a grand scale. Tom

  48. tewter says:

    Congress should outlaw all the “czars” who are paid by taxpayers, kill the NEA, and the EPA for starters. That would trim the deficit a bunch! I agree that it is a mistake to kill the space program.

    An aside – back in the 1980s I was in charge of developing an English program for people who did not speak, read or write English well. It was for a large Fortune 500 company that no longer exists. I went to Washington DC to observe a woman who developed a working program teach government employees. The vast majority of the students were black, dressed very well, and had wholly dysfunctional English skills. I thought at the time, no wonder our government is so screwed up! The answer is to cut, cut, cut government and stop hiring people who can’t type a decent English sentence nor speak it intelligently. We wouldn’t have a deficit problem and lots of people could afford health care if we did. And then we could invite Obama to take a ride to outer space on the NASA shuttle. Seriously, this could come back to bite him really badly re national security.

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