It seems to me that not having a low-earth orbit option is a bad idea. Paying $50M to the Russians for the equivalent of a taxi ride is an expensive taxi ride on both a fiscal and prominence scale. It makes much more sense to me to keep flying the shuttle (I've been told for $2B per year) to ferry astronauts and cargo while pouring the other $16B into destination-oriented projects. I'd LOVE to see a human on the moon again and then on Mars. I wouldn't gripe about taxes for that kind of stuff.
But that's just me thinking thoughts.