Americans want the national government to spend less money. Americans want money for constitutional responsibilities and core functions spent wisely. The proposed Obama budget does neither.
My family budget must prioritize between needs and wants. The Obama budget is $3.8 trillion and still doesn't meet our needs while overfunding wants.! One wonders where all the money is going.
The administration's budget proposal includes cancellation of the NASA Constellation program and specifically the Ares rocket, the planned replacement for the shuttle. This proposed cut was originally misrepresented by the president as a cost-saving measure.! The truth of the matter is that NASA will actually receive an overall budget increase, with the funds for the Constellation program and Ares rocket merely shifted to other areas.! Indeed, the truth is that no taxpayer dollars have been saved by cancelling this program.
Time magazine named the Ares rocket as the number one invention of the past year.! This replacement for the old space shuttle system has been successfully tested and will move the U.S. into the future.! The administration now contemplates replacing Constellation and Ares with an incomplete scheme considered by experts as naAOve, reckless and definitely unproven.
Left in the wreckage of this decision will be the destruction of at least 20,000 private-sector jobs. The administration -- which claims to focus on job creation and urges kids to take more science, math and engineering classes -- now gives a pink slip to engineering jobs that require math and science skills. Some recruitment scheme for more science students!! Some jobs creation program!
It is more than just jobs, though.! It is about the special kinds of jobs and their relationship to our national defense.! The kinds of skills needed to build NASA rockets are the same skills needed to build missiles used in the defense of our nation, and they rely on the same rocket motor technology.! Last year, this administration cut our missile defense program and jobs were lost.! Subsequently, if the administration is successful in its efforts to cut the Constellation program this year, the rest of those jobs will be lost.! Missiles don't build themselves.! An industrial base is needed and, once lost, is difficult and costly to regain.! As the Defense Secretary for Acquisition wrote last September, "The best defense industrial and technology base in the world is not a birthright ... (these) skills are not easily replicated in the commercial world and, if allowed to erode, would be difficult to rebuild."
If we suddenly realize the North Koreans or Iranians are a greater threat to our security than we now guess, and we need more missiles, they can't be built if the unique and specialized expertise has been fired and essentially lost. An industrial base is not a spigot that can be turned on and off at will.! In June of last year the Pentagon sent Congress an assessment of this industrial base.! They claimed that a delay in the Ares rocket program would have a "significant negative impact" on our nation's missile defense capability.! Can we assume that cancelling the Ares rocket program would have a very significant negative impact?! It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that one.
Without Ares there will be no future American space vehicle.! Common sense tells us we should not turn the space above us over to the Russians and Chinese.! American astronauts will basically be forced to stand on the edge of space trying to hail a Russian taxi to the space station or back.! It puts us in a second-class status.! Additionally, the Pentagon tells us that cancelling Constellation and the Ares rockets also puts us in jeopardy with our missile defense program.! It makes us more vulnerable to rogue nations.!
In the end, it is partly about special jobs.! Eliminating 20,000 private-sector jobs in this economy sure isn't the way one lowers unemployment rates. It is also about space exploration.! Most importantly, though, it is absolutely about our constitutional responsibility to provide for the common defense.! In each area, the Obama plan fails Americans.! This should not be America's future.! Already a bipartisan congressional effort is challenging this administration proposal that harms America's role in space, hurts our economy, and damages our missile defense and national security. We must and can do better.
Bishop serves Utah's First Congressional District.