One of the things Mitt Romney and Republicans like to whine about, lately, concerning President Obama is the end of the space shuttle program. They claim that it’s just another example of how Obama just doesn’t care about the glory of America.
It’s interesting, because the Republicans, at the same time, seem to think that every “unnecessary” cent of government spending should be cut. The shuttle program has cost the United States taxpayers over $200 billion. And while this figure is dwarfed by our war habit, which costs somewhere between $1 billion and $2.7 billion per day and has gone on for years.
Nonetheless, $200 billion is a nothing to sneeze at – especially for a program that has little benefit for the typical, middle-class family.
Well, maybe. Just what could $200 billion get that might be better for the average person than a whole lotta’ “gee whiz” value? Republicans are always making noise about abortion, but don’t want to do anything but ban it. They don’t want to address the causes and the reasons that women have abortions at all – for one, the economic catastrophe that raising a small child can be for a family (or especially single mom) with limited income.
Child day-care costs around $250 per week, give or take $150 or so. $200 billion would pay for 800 million weeks of day care, at that rate, or about 35 weeks for every single child aged 0 to 5 years that currently lives in the United States.
Want something more… concrete? As it stands, the U.S. annual highway repair bill is just over $70 billion per year. That falls way short of the $186 billion that would actually improve our highways to the point where we weren’t playing catch-up with aging and deterioration. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimate our infrastructure backlog (roads, water pipes, electrical systems, bridges, etc.) at $2.2 trillion.
Fixing these problems would mean jobs. I’m one who is fascinated by the space program, but I’d trade it right in for reliable systems on which American lives and livelihoods depend. This is one decision on which I agree with President Obama. $200 billion is too steep a price for gee-whiz value and some trickle-down technological advances that make things like a faster iPhone possible. As I always say, we need to prioritize.
Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.