In any organization, there are basically two optimization games being played at any given moment: The long-term game, and the short-term game. In general charting an optimal course is hard, both because the long game is very hard to play, and because how well you play the short game affects your long game. The negative effects are well-known: witness big business' almost being straightjacketed to quarterly and yearly forecasts. The consequences of this? A tendency to play for short-term gain at the expense of foreseeable long-term ruin.
But also witness Netflix shooting their feet off at the knees. Why did that happen? They played too much in favor of the long game, essentially. Far enough down the road, it will make as much sense to be in the DVD-by-mail business as it currently makes to be in the DVD-by-rental-store business. The problem is, their long-term plays were premature, and very harmful to the short-term game.
So, space exploration. Everyone agrees that it's very important, right? But it's a long-term game, with long-term payoffs. Possibly very long term. The true maturation of space exploration - the transformation from mankind's journey into space being a herculean endeavor, funded at considerable expense by entire nations - into the space industry, undertaken by various firms for different businesses ... This is the long term goal. But how long term? I think it's not unreasonable to estimate that it will be a hundred years. Now, the US is less than 250 years old. A hundred years is a VERY long time. A hundred years ago, it was 1912, and WW1 (yes, 1) was more than two years off.
Meanwhile, there is a very real chance the financial system underpinning the entire world economy could implode within a few decades. If that happens, every penny that has ever been spent on long-term goals with a maturation significantly further into the future than this ... will have largely been wasted, spent building castles in the sky.
So it makes sense to cut the Mars stuff. I want to know what kind of life is on Europa, or Mars, or wherever else ... just as much as you do. But it just doesn't make sense, given the realities of enormous deficits, and a political process paralyzed by gridlock.