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January 25, 2005

Mark A. R. Kleiman Watches the Clown Show

Yet somehow he's not laughing:

Mark A. R. Kleiman: Killing Hubble: Sometimes I think that the Republican right is so convinced by its own "government-is-the-problem" rhetoric that it instinctively tries to kill any public program that demonstrably isn't stupid. By any reasonable standard, the Hubble Space Telescope has been astonishingly cost-effective. Spending a billion bucks to fix it rather than letting it die would seem like a laydown decision. But apparently the Bush budget will omit that money from the NASA request, leaving the Hubble to its fate.

It's possible that this is the old budgetary wheeze called the "Statue of Liberty play": if you ask the Park Service to say what it would do to absorb a 1% budget cut, it proposes shutting down the Statue of Liberty, relying on the political infeasibility of that option to protect all its other programs. Maybe Bush, under pressure to make the deficit in his budget as submitted look as small as possible, figures that he can easily push the blame for that billion-dollar addition onto the Congress, and there's no real intention to kill the program.

Still, I'd hate to bet on that. And notice that this verision, which accuses Bush of a deliberate act of dishonesty, is the most generous possible interpretation of what the Clown Act is up to; all the others are worse. It's entirely possible that our technologically illiterate President really believes in all that "Mission to Mars" b.s., and is willing to sacrifice genuine science to pay for it.

Four years (minus five days) and counting.

Posted by DeLong at January 25, 2005 10:01 AM