WASHINGTON, D.C.- President Obama signed an executive order today authorizing the Internal Revenue Service to permanently increase federal income taxes by 6%, while allocating the entirety of the increased tax revenue to fund the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Flanked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Representative Steven Palazzo, Chairman of the House Committee on Space and Aeronautics, President Obama said, “Since the birth of mankind, we, as humans, have been motivated by the desire to explore. This insatiable desire is not only one of curiosity, but of survival. With the full support of Congress, I have authorized our Internal Revenue Service to implement a permanent six-percent increase on the federal income tax. Every cent garnered through this increase will be allocated towards the survival and advancement of the human race for generations to come.”
NASA currently collects about $17.64 billion a year in federal funding, but with the 6% increase, the space agency will receive around $180 billion annually. While this number may seem huge in the eyes of taxpayers, the average American typically contributes less than $10 a year towards NASA funding through income taxes.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, an American astrophysicist and cosmologist, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper he supports the tax increase but said it’s insufficient. “The Apollo mission alone cost $20 billion, which today, if you consider inflation, would amount to around $109 billion. So if we, as a species, expect to make any significant progress in space exploration beyond our immediate solar system, $180 billion is not enough. It’s a good start, but it’s not enough.”
NASA’s present budget accounts for less than 1% of the annual United States federal budget. Compared to the Department of Defense, which receives nearly 20% of the budget on an annual basis, NASA and space exploration as a whole don’t appear to be a top priority for American politicians and voters alike, said Tyson. “In a perfect world, we’d be spending more on space exploration and significantly less on finding new ways to kill each other. But for now, the human race has some serious maturing to do if we hope to reach that point.”