THE SPACE PROGRAM AND BUDGET REALITY | 2003-02-08
Liberals don't like science. They want all our problems to be solved by things like rationing that mean giving more power to bureaucrats and social science planners.
In 1977 the Carter Administration almost succeeded in destroying the space program. By then the NASA budget had been cut to the bone by Nixon and Ford in compromises with liberals. Then came what Carter and Company hoped would be the coup de grace. The 1977 appropriation budget bill that went to the floor of the House cut out the Hubble space telescope and the Jupiter Orbital Probe.
Yes, the Hubble Telescope, the one that is giving us whole new insights into the nature of the universe right now.
Liberals said they wanted the $300 million -- yes it was just $300 million -- cut from the space telescope and Jupiter probe to send to poor people programs. It was to join the trillion dollars we had already spent on the War on Poverty.
This cut was well planned and had the backing of the White House. The relevant Appropriations Subcommittee chairman, a Democrat, recommended it.
When it comes to the budget, the chairman of the subcommittee usually has his way. But this proposal to cut out the Hubble Telescope and the Jupiter Orbital Probe had more support than that. The Ranking Republican on the relevant budget subcommittee had joined with the chairman in recommending
The supporters of the space program were caught with their pants down. A lot of them wanted to do the General Lee bit and surrender nobly. Please see WhitakerOnline World View for February 1, 2003 --"General Lee's Fatal Mistake" and "Please, Please, PLEASE Stop Sniveling!"
There were space program snivelers who sobbed that all was lost. They kept reminding us that the combination of chairman and ranking minority member on the relevant subcommittee cannot be beaten on the Floor on a minor issue like this one.
So we decided it wouldn't be a minor issue.
We delayed the bill while the space advocates who were willing to fight back sent out telegrams.
I had no expertise on space but I had a hell of a lot of expertise on fighting in a corner. That was when the Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress and the White House, and a few of our last-ditch House members like my boss John Ashbrook were holding up a major portion of the liberal agenda
The space program was already cut to the bone, and if this had gone through the essential personnel of the program would have been terminated. There was no coming back if we lost this one.
So I decided we wouldn't lose this one.
We had to get time and delay the thing past the weekend break so our forces could weigh in.
We got the time.
Over the weekend the pro-space movement poured in hundreds of thousands of telegrams. Everybody from the L-5 Space Settlement group to the Trekkies and young people in general hit Washington politically for the first time. All us nerds and kooks and romantics were in on it.
If you haven't been in on the mechanics of Capitol Hill legislation you cannot understand the sheer shock of the victory we won.
It is true that normally if both the Chairman and the Ranking Republican on the Appropriations subcommittee call for a cut, it is a done deal.
Unless you're dealing with the kind of people who would demand that Lee fight on after Appomattox.
We didn't just beat them. We beat them four to one!! As I remember they got 83 for the cut and we got 348 against it.
Almost every House member was there for the vote on what was no longer a minor issue.