You remember the White House's "We the People" initiative, right? Back in September of 2011, they launched the site as an online forum for user-submitted petitions. In short, a petition will receive an official response from the White House if it receives enough signatures. In the past, we've seen petitions ranging in topic from student loan forgiveness to the legalization of marijuana, and from internet freedom to NASA funding.
And although many have derided the White House for their oftentimes politically safe responses, and many feel that the petitions are absolutely pointless, the White House claims that the citizens' ideas and questions do not fall on deaf ears.
The aforementioned NASA gets a lot of play on the We the People site, as concerns mount over the program's shrinking budget. A recent petition that hit the signature threshold has just received an official White House response. The petition, which asks the administration to help double NASA's annual budget reads as such:
Currently, NASA’s budget barely surpasses 0.5 percent of the Federal budget, and has seen a steady decline in the proportions of its funding, now reaching all-time lows. The cultural mindset brought on by NASA has allowed us to reap the benefits of economic growth, creating an influx of people wanting to become scientists and engineers.
There is no question that the government has money to fund NASA: $850 billion was spent on the bank bailout, several hundred billion dollars more than the 53 year running budget of NASA. If we want to invest in our future, we must fund NASA at higher levels.
After garnering nearly 28,000 signatures, the White House has issued a lengthy response that, among other things, blames the lack of NASA love on the Republicans. After explaining the key features of their plan to "push the boundaries of inspriation and discovery," here's what White House spokesman Phil Larson has to say:
Unfortunately, not everyone is supportive of this ambitious effort. Rather than making bold, targeted investments in our space future and embarking on new partnerships with the private sector to ensure every taxpayer dollar is spent wisely, the proposed Republican House budget plan, if spread evenly, would significantly cut NASA's budget, forcing the deepest cuts to the space program since just after we landed on the Moon.
The response, which you should check out in its entirety here, is drawing the ire of some, in part because it sort of passes the buck to private companies like SpaceX. Plus, it really doesn't give any assurances that current projects are safe from budget cuts.
1) Thanks, we think NASA is cool too, bro.
2) 'Free market enterprise' means we don't need to give them any more money.
3) Like those SpaceX guys, right? They totally got this shit. We don't need to rely on NASA anymore.
4) And hey, look at the pretty telescope and mars rover! That's totally enough to satiate you, right?
5, plus list) And here's a bunch of other projects, which the budget totally covers guys, honest. They aren't in any danger at all!
6) Republicans are the ones shitting on all this, blame them.
7) We're totally heroes for just holding to the status quo rather than cutting them like a leetle peegy.
8) Suck it.
Can't really argue with him on much of that translation.
In terms of progress on NASA's most recent expedition of looking for bacteria on the surface of Mars, it's about 40 days away from touching down.