You know if we weren't in the middle of a global pandemic, through which America has suffered more deaths than any other nation, I'd be more likely to see the merit in "exploration for the fun of it." If we didn't have failing schools, a crumbling infrastructure, declining life expectancies, inadequate healthcare, and just generally a lower standard of living than the rest of the developed world, maybe I'd agree.
Except, of course, that the NASA budget is only half of one percent of the US budget. Cutting it would not substantially impact the major problems on the ground.
And except, of course, that NASA's budget is spent on Earth, and mostly within the US. All those dollars go into paying salaries of people who live on Earth, and to companies who make all the parts that NASA uses. It is not removed from the economy.
And, except, of course, that of all the government programs out there, NASA is one of the few that generates more value in the overall economy than it costs. We listed a few spinoff technologies, but overall, they are legion, and their value to the private sector is in excess of NASA'a budget.
Economically speaking, cutting NASA is cutting off your nose to spite your face. In terms of overall dollars, cutting it is a losing proposition.
Put great minds to work on that kind of stuff.
It isn't like NASA is the sole repository of great minds. You note the pandemic as a point - There were great minds left, right, and center were trying desperately to tell the Administration what needed to happen, both in terms of mitigation plans, and for the vaccine rollout. They were ignored. Plans already created were tossed out.
The block to handling these other problems is not lack of genius, or lack of money that could come from NASA. It is lack of political will. Beyond that, we get into real-world politics.