President Trump’s new budget director, former Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-SC, has released a list of nine domestic programs that the new administration is preliminarily planning to reduce or cut, attempting to shrink the deficit and national debt.
Among them are the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities.
This cut will have little effect on the national budget, less than .02 percent of the overall budget, but will harm the cultural landscape of our country profoundly.
Trump has unrelentingly marketed himself as the guy who will be able to wrangle the national debt and budget into a manageable number thanks to his business acumen.
As he said a little more than a week ago in regard to his forthcoming budget proposal, “I want the American people to know that our budget will reflect their priorities. We’ll be directing all of our departments and agencies to protect every last American and every last tax dollar. No more wasted money.”
Sure, we shouldn’t be throwing around billions of dollars like it’s no big deal. But public arts funding is an important and vital institution that benefits everyone.
Cutting arts funding will hardly make a dent in the national deficit, but a large cultural void will be left in the fallout.
The organizations do not plan on taking this lying down.
As the New York Times reported, Robert L. Lynch , head of Americans for the Arts said “The public wants to see agencies like the N.E.A. continue. There is always a debate, but there has been agreement among Republicans and Democrats that funding for the arts is a good thing, and it has been kept in place.”
PBS, one program funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, is near and dear to my heart. It’s linked inexorably to my childhood; I can fondly recall episodes of “Arthur,” “Dragon Tales,” “Sesame Street” and “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
While PBS receives donations and other sources of funding, it will most likely take a hit if some of its public funding is stripped. Many people of my generation remember learning how to count with Count von Count, a character on “Sesame Street.” It saddens me to think that future generations may not have a similar cultural icon with which to associate their first learning experiences.
NPR is another example; I’ve spent many road trips tuned into their popular news game show, “Wait, Wait...Don’t Tell Me!” As a kid who had no clue what many things in the local newspaper meant, I was able to gain a rudimentary understanding of what was going on in the world thanks to “Wait, Wait...Don’t Tell Me!”
Public broadcasting and arts funding are necessary cornerstones of our country’s cultural landscape. The programs that receive this funding are many things — informative, educational and inspiring — but “wasteful” is not one of them.
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