NASA has lost its cojones after Apollo got cancelled.
NASA lost it's balls because the American public lost it's balls. "We won the moon race so why keep spending billions? We beat the Soviets. USA. USA. US...hey...disco!"
We were VERY reactionary back then. They
we launched. They
launched a man into space then
we did. They
we did. They
started looking at the moon then
Kennedy said "Hey, we should go to the moon and do that other thing."
People think NASA gets billions more money than it already does. They're convinced that NASA wastes the "endless supply" of cash on pointless endeavors and to be honest, what NASA has done for the past 30 years hasn't been "sexy". We've pretty much been mass transit or a construction crew since Skylab. No exploring. We're building. We're watching how peas grow and how mice fuck in 0g. No one wants their tax dollars spent on that!
Now the question of "Mars, why?" Because we can. It'll be hard and cost a lot of money but Apollo united the country in the 60s in a way few other things aside from war can. It's good for the nation and would resolidify our superpowerness.
Just because we "can" go to Mars doesn't justify that we should. I'm all for space exploration, but I think remote rovers (at a few million a pop) are money better spent than BILLIONS to send a manned crew. Other monies could be spent on on developing other types of space craft and even mining asteroids for energy to haul back to earth.