Where Obama emphasized the utility and necessity of government doing what citizens cannot do individually across the breadth of society, Twitter's favorite astrophysicist focused on the case for government having a unique capacity to fund basic research.
The occasion for Tyson's speech was the launch of the new House Science and National Labs Caucus, founded by Reps. Randy Hultgren (R-IL; Fermilab is in his district), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM; Los Alamos is in his), and Alan Nunnelee (R-MS). This group isn't the only one aiming for better science funding—the Research And Development Caucus has similar goals and a six-year head start—so the new caucus opted to call attention to its launch with a name-brand guest at the Library of Congress's Coolidge Auditorium.
(The caucus also invited a dozen or so science-leaning Twitter users, myself included, to good seats and a peek at some of the Library's artifacts, including one of Carl Sagan's slide rules.)
Tyson framed his talk around three things that motivate societies to tackle never-been-done-before efforts like the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China, Columbus' voyages, and the Apollo program. One of these three factors—praising royalty or a deity—doesn't apply in the US. A second—countering an existential threat, which Tyson called "the 'I don't want to die' driver"—has faded since the end of the Cold War.
That leaves the promise of economic return: in Tyson's words, "I don't want to die poor!"
"If you have a healthy science program in this country, you guarantee your economic future," he declared in one of the moments that could have been snipped from a campaign speech.