Cruz Control: Texas Senator Demonstrates Why People Don’t Want Him Leading Science Committee

Sen. Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz

There was a great deal of hue and cry earlier this year when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took over the newly renamed Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness. [Science-Denying Troglodyte Ted Cruz to Chair Senate Science Subcommittee]

Critics view the far right Tea Party favorite as pretty much of an idiot when it comes to science. [8 Dumb Quotes About Science From New NASA Overseer Ted Cruz] They worry about his past efforts to cut NASA’s budget, and what they view as his dishonest skepticism about the realities of global warming. [Ted Cruz to Oversee NASA: What Does His Record Tell Us?]

It didn’t take long for critics’ worst fears to be born out. Last Thursday, Cruz decided to engage NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in a debate over the space agency’s core mission. The consensus is that Cruz got the worst of the exchange, in the process demonstrating a lack of knowledge about what NASA’s been doing for the past 57 years.

Cruz’s basic contention was that the Obama Administration has been over spending on Earth science research while shorting changing human space exploration and everything else in the budget. The senator brought out a chart showing that while Earth Sciences budget has received a 41 percent boost since George W. Bush departed office in 2009, the Space Operations and Exploration budgets — which fund the International Space Station, commercial crew, Orion and the Space Launch System — have dropped a combined 7.6 percent.

“Almost any American would agree that the core function of NASA is to explore space,” Cruz declared. “That’s what inspires little boys and little girls across this country.”

Bolden responded that the study of Earth has been one of NASA’s core functions since it was created in 1958. He also pointed out the importance of the research to space agency and planet in general.

“We can’t go anywhere if the Kennedy Space Center goes underwater and we don’t know it — and that’s understanding our environment,” Bolden said. “It is absolutely critical that we understand Earth’s environment because this is the only place that we have to live.”

The NASA administrator said there was a large cost saving when the space agency retired its expensive space shuttle program in 2011. He also explained that NASA is trying to reduce the costs of sending astronauts to the International Space Station.

Cruz’s chart was misleading and gave a distorted view of NASA’s spending and the Obama Administration’s budget priorities. To see how one only needs to look at NASA’s $18.53 billion FY 2016 budget proposal.

The Science budget would be funded at $5.29 billion. Of that amount, $1.95 billion would be spent on Earth Science, which is about 37.25 percent of the total. The other 62.75 percent of the Science budget would be split between Planetary Science, Astrophysics, Heliophysics and the James Webb Space Telescope.

In other words, most of NASA’s Science budget is about exploring space and its environment, albeit not with the astronauts that Cruz finds so inspirational.

So, what about the Exploration and Space Operations budgets that Cruz said had been reduced? How central are these budgets to NASA’s overall spending?

Very central. The Administration is requesting $4.5 billion for the Exploration budget, which funds the commercial crew and SLS/Orion programs. The Space Operations budget, which is used to fund space station operations and related programs, would receive $4 billion.

In other words, the Administration is proposing to spend $8.5 billion on human spaceflight program out of a total budget proposal of $18.53 billion. This is compared with $1.95 billion to be spent on Earth science.

The Obama Administration also is requesting $724.8 million for the Space Technology budget. That funding supports a range of new technologies, with a central thrust of allowing NASA to better explore space with both robots and astronauts.

The other important thing to note is the Bush Administration shared a similar skepticism about global warming and the value of environmental research.  It’s no surprise that NASA’s underfunded Earth Science budget would rise during the Obama Administration, which takes both of these matters seriously.

Bolden is responsibly addressing urgent environmental concerns within the limited budget he has been given by Congress in accordance with one of his agency’s core missions. Cruz, on the other hand, is using distorted data to falsely accuse the Obama Administration of short changing human spaceflight.

Cruz managed to prove his critics right while chairing only his second subcommittee meeting. The next two years will be very interesting.

  • In the future I will try to avoid your spaceship exhaust fumes.

  • Gary Church

    I have read many such goodbyes but unfortunately most do not prove “possible” to those who are addicted to making snarky comments.

  • Gary Church

    Deny it if you want, you continue to harass me instead of just leaving me alone. Why don’t you stop bitching Jim and leave me alone?

  • JimNobles

    Gary, I think the mentally ill bit is an act but I can’t be sure how much of an act so you do have me at a disadvantage so all I can really do is speak what I believe is true.

    Your ideas about NASA returning to the Moon Apollo style using SLS are simply not going to happen, mainly, I believe because of no money.

    What you call NewSpace, which is really private enterprise, is the direction of the future. There’s nothing you can do about it. There’s nothing I can do about it.

    All those other sites that banned you did not do it because of your opinions of NewSpace companies or individuals involved in NewSpace. You banned because you acted like an immature jerk, much as you have here.

    You’re lucky our host is not the banning people type or you’d likely be gone just as you have found yourself on the outside looking in at the other sites you abused.

  • Gary Church

    “-the mentally ill bit-”

    Foul insult. Shame on you.

    “-simply not going to happen-”

    You hope. Your claim to be able to see the future is false.

    “What you call NewSpace-”

    An established “brand.” Not my call.

    “-you acted like an immature jerk-”

    Foul insult. Shame on you.

    “-lucky our host is not the banning people type-”

    Lucky for you.

    “-the other sites you abused.”

    You are the one abusing this site with your cyberthuggery.

  • Nernst

    So do the all the democrats that joined with shelby to force SLS down NASA’s throat get pilloried too? or just the republicans?

  • I’ve been advertising the Donna and Eddie show for quite a while on MS-NBC. And of course, Mr. Obama signed the 2010 Authorization that resurrected Bill Nelson’s Monster. This has truly been a bipartisan disaster since about 2011. Congress went along with Griffin’s Constellation like sheep to the slaughter.

    We need to have a poll and start taking bets when the zombie will finally die. This is truly a Universal Monster Movie. We should get Svengoolie involved.

    Until then, the vampire will continue to suck the blood of the American public. Bob Oler expressed it well. There’s a light on again at the Frankenstein place.

  • Matt

    I viewed only that short video where the senator asks Bolden about NASA’s
    mission. And that was a good question and Bolden’s delayed reactions showed
    that he is not really sure about it. The question about NASA’s mission is the
    most important one.

    I am only a foreigner, but I have been observed NASA activities for 40 years
    now, and I share my impression with the senator Cruz that NASA has loosed its
    mission, which is unmanned and manned exploration of space. NASA shall skip it’s
    aeronautical part (and leave it to FAA or whatever) and leave also Earth science
    to other governmental agencies, which are specialized in these sciences as NOAA
    and others.

  • Matt

    A leftist with a nuclear bomb as sign that is a contradiction.

  • Gary Church

    Stereotypical thinking is common in rightists.

  • Gary Church

    I would suggest moving the nuclear deterrent into deep space using spaceships and thus create a “space navy” that does Human Space Flight.

  • Douglas Messier

    It looks as if the senator will have limited time to run the subcommittee since he’s running for President. That should keep him busy until either his campaign implodes or he’s elected to the highest job in the land.

  • Michael J. Listner

    Yes, it’s Listner.

  • Michael J. Listner

    People who think do so, people who can’t accuse those who can of circular logic.

  • Michael J. Listner

    This has nothing to do with Senator Cruz’s history; it has everything to do with your politics.

  • Michael J. Listner

    Really? Is that all you got?

  • Vladislaw

    “Oh-kay. But, they criticized his appointment to head up a science subcommittee based upon his earlier statements about science. He then said dumb things during only the second meeting that reinforced those criticisms. What did he do to justify being given the benefit of the doubt?” – Douglas Messier