SENIOR STAFF WRITER
President Trump is expected soon to sign a budget into law that would strip for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This would wound, possibly fatally, programs like NPR and PBS, which deliver news and educational programming like no one else on TV. The idea, President Trump says, is to tighten the budget. President Trump’s wall, by comparison, is expected to cost the American taxpayer $25 billion, according to The Washington Post.
The first question one might have is what do the NEA and NEH do? Both primarily offer grants: according to Humanities Insights, the NEH funds grants for literature, philosophy, language, and history; and the NEA funds paint, dance and music grants. A nixing of them both would deliver a striking blow to students in liberal arts programs as well as academia.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is what is responsible for the handling of PBS and NPR. According to Salon, the CPB’s government funding amounts to $446 million, which is out of a 4 trillion dollar budget for 2017. Having done the math, that is about .00011 of the total budget. PBS is even
worse, with that same Salon article citing its cost to each individual taxpayer as $1.35.
Part of what’s leading to the downfall of these programs are the smears on things like PBS and NPR as “liberal propaganda.” These are not entirely accurate. Programs like “Newshour” and “Frontline” do things that none of the stations, liberal bias or conservative, are doing right now. They report in AP style, they present the story with the facts that are present. It’s bona fide journalism. “Newshour” often maintains a strong conservative presence, with a conservative guest usually appearing once every broadcast.
For this to be about the budget would have to either be based in misinformation or a flat out lie.
So if Trump isn’t scrapping and privatizing these programs for the budget, then what? Is this another slight to academia or a push from more artistic work to more “macho man” type stuff? It doesn’t seem like an especially calculated maneuver. This will go over well with the far right, sure, but the centrists won’t likely go for it the liberals definitely won’t go for it, and people on the center-right may not even go for it. PBS has been enjoying a surge in popularity as early as 2013, according to masslive, with it’s success only being in part with it’s recent adopting of programming like “Downton Abbey.” People actually like the educational programming PBS puts out, decisions that may wound that are likely to be unpopular with all sides of the aisle, evidenced by the last time this type of budget tried to go through congress. According to The Hill, this budget, initially penned by the Heritage Foundation, was shut down 132-294.
This is an idea that has been thrown around before, Ronald Reagan was initially enamored with the idea, before being dissuaded by other conservatives. There is hope there, and it comes with contacting local representatives to fight against these new cuts.