Sen. Cruz becoming the chair that oversees NASA is not only terribly ironic; it highlights a huge problem in the current political landscape.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas becoming the new Subcommittee Chair on Space, Science and Competitiveness is perplexing. In the past Sen. Cruz has been anything but an advocate for science programs within the US government. If anything, he’s actually opposed them.
There have been multiple instances of Sen. Cruz not backing science initiatives in Congress which include his Twitter rant on Net Neutrality (in which he compared it to the Internet’s version of Obamacare), asking in a Senate committee hearing what Bruce Willis’s thoughts were on all asteroid related threats, and the most startling he actually tried to cut NASA funding back in 2013. And now, he’s on the Senate subcommittee that oversees NASA and most other science programs!
Yet the real kicker in all of this revolves around the fact that he doesn’t believe in global warming. Statements like this one to CNN on climate change has made Sen. Cruz’s position on the matter very clear, he doesn’t believe science has enough evidence to say that climate change actually exists. This is a problem, specifically because NASA in the last few years has been studying the Earth’s atmosphere and its effect on global warming. The question now becomes with Sen. Cruz in the head of a committee overseeing NASA and other science programs, what becomes of these global warming studies?
This problem goes further than just Sen. Cruz. It includes Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida – also another climate change denier – being named the Subcommittee Chair on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and the Coast Guard. That would mean Sen. Rubio oversees many environmental legislation, even though he doesn’t believe that the environment is in any actual trouble. But this isn’t just a problem in the Republican Senate, it’s a problem in all facets of the American government.
President Obama recently tried to name Antonio Weiss – long time investor who has strong ties to the investment banking industry – as his new assistant secretary of treasury for domestic finance, a role that would require him to regulate the investment banking industry. It wasn’t until Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other members of the Democratic Party spoke out against the nomination that it was finally rescinded.
However everyone knows American democracy moves at a snail’s pace. This goes double getting anything done in Washington. So with that in mind, do these political positions actually matter in the long run? Should you really care if Sen. Cruz oversees NASA?
Surprisingly, who you put in these positions matter quite a bit!
While true, Senate Subcommittees are more about the prestige of holding that position than anything else, experts are rarely ever heads of these subcommittees or political offices in general. Like everything in Washington, it’s all about politics (small ‘p’). But that’s ok, because these chairs aren’t meant to be for experts in these respective fields. The heads of these committees and departments – where legislation is essentially created and enforced – are designed for advocates of these particular fields.
These positions may just be titles for politicians and bureaucrats to put on their resume when it’s time for them to go onto something bigger and better, but who you put into these positions matter. A person like Weiss overseeing the investment banking industry is just as bad – maybe even worse – as having Sen. Cruz overseeing NASA and other science programs. Not putting proper advocates stunt the process of creating and enacting substantive legislation. The system only works if we have people who truly want the best for that policy sector.
So if Sen. Cruz is the best we can do, then we are all surely in trouble.
(Photo Credit: Office of US Trade)