In terms of innovation, the private sector is not suited to long term projects. This is because corporations are based on quarterly reporting. If a project takes 20 years to complete, or even just to show some progress, that project is less likely to receive continual funding.
Sorry, but corporations aren't based on quarterly reporting. That shows such a staggering lack of basic business knowledge that it boggles the mind. SpaceX has yet to file a quarterly report. It might not ever file one. Most corporations don't.
Some things are more important than mere ferengi profit motive. Spaceflight is to be compared with the eradication of polio--it is the right thing to do--profits be damned.
The eradication of polio came to a grinding halt when we exposed the details of our Bin Laden raid. Maybe one day we'll be able to restart it, perhaps in a decade or two. So yeah, if the long-term goal depends on the common sense of politicians, instead of their vanity and short-term desire for a bounce in the polls, space is screwed.