The Nation, a left-leaning magazine, published an article about House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s influence over NASA and its budget. The article largely rehashes the issues most regular readers of this blog are familiar with: DeLay’s addition of JSC into his Congressional district, his last-minute move to top off NASA’s FY05 budget request, and the recent reorganization of the House Appropriation Committee’s subcommittee structure. Like many such articles, it includes an arguably questionable comment from John Pike: “With NASA changing its spending priorities to support President Bush’s vision for space exploration that will return humans to the moon and take them to Mars, there will be plenty of money going to start-up companies with no record of producing hardware, and there will be no way to measure results.” I’m not sure what he means by there being “no way” to measure results; at least one startup company has complained publicly about the amount of status reports and other paperwork they have to supply to NASA.
The thesis of the article is summarized in this sentence: “NASA, then, is another potential source of money and power for DeLay–if he survives his ethics troubles.” Don’t you think that if someone like DeLay—who already has significant power in Congress today—wanted “another potential source of money and power”, he would take aim at something a bit bigger than NASA and its $16-billion annual budget? Is that the best he can do to shore up his constituency back in Texas? Or is DeLay someone with an actual interest in space and is willing to use some of the power and influence he has accumulated to support the space agency? That alternative, unfortunately, isn’t really explored in the article other than a sentence that “for years, DeLay has expressed an interest in the space program.”