Isn't this a technology decision?
Too much stuff here is largely fiction. X38 landing capability was extremely limited (only on extremely-flat ground) and used a parafoil to soak up speed after re-entry cooled. It was icky.
The shuttle cost too ever-lovin' much. That is proven. The ridiculously heavy reusable has been too trouble-prone to be cost-effective. It is well-past its 'sell by' date, too.
The USA evidently don't have anything that competes with Russia's 1960s-era Soyuz for cost and reliability. NASA attempted to define 'human rated' lifting systems (rocket plus return-device) to establish new high-reliability standards. NASA just didn't get enough funding early-enough [or implement an efficient-enough development plan] to deliver any solution today.
Let the Chinese and Indians (and the French and the English) go to the Moon. There is little there for commercial exploitation. It has almost-no military value, either [other then ransoming the alteration of the moon]. Parking stuff in the Moon's gravity-well for interplanetary missions is just stupid. No one has the interplanetary thrust systems yet. Some things (like ion-rockets) have shown promise, but need a lot of work.
Space stations DO have value. If commercial lifting systems can bring enough technology and reliability for the price, they are the USA's first choice. NASA needs to decide what its role and support can be in that situation.
For now, NASA is about launching unmanned probes with technology unmatched by any other space-going nation. If we want NASA to resume heavy-duty manned-missions we will have to replace some of the current emphasis.