Trump’s Budget Would Finally Fire Big Bird, Defund NPR
A man dressed as the Sesame Street character Big Bird sits on a bench. U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
The new White House budget proposal, a wish list of President Donald Trump’s policies, would cut funding to several arts and grants programs that Republicans have decried for decades.
Trump’s 2018 budget, called “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” requests increases in defense spending and reduction of domestic programs.
Specifically, the budget “proposes to eliminate funding for other independent agencies,” including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which sends some amount of funding to PBS and National Public Radio.
Though Big Bird only re-airs on PBS (“Sesame Street” is now on HBO), eliminating funding to things like the NEA Corporation for Public Broadcasting is not a new idea. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney suggested cutting the CPB during the 2012 presidential campaign, and was quickly criticized. Former President Barack Obama even accused Romney of trying to kill Big Bird in a campaign ad.
Congress has the final say over all discretionary budgets, so Trump faces a tough fight to get rid of agencies like the NEA and the NEH, even though many Republicans don’t believe the federal government needs to fund arts projects, especially those seen as subversive or frivolous.
Former President Ronald Reagan tried to eliminate the NEA in his first year in office, but ultimately failed when a council of his his friends convinced him government funding of the arts was important and beneficial.
Truly eliminating funding from PBS and NPR would take a while due to “the nature of contracts,” Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, told reporters during a briefing Wednesday
The CPB receives its budget two years in advance, according to Washington Free Beacon.
“We proposed ending funding, but technically what you’ll see—it’s an elimination—but you’ll see an amount of money in the budget, and it is some amount of money that’s necessary for us to unwind our involvement with CPB,” Mulvaney said. “So you won’t see a zero next to it, but the policy is that we’re ending federal involvement with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”
The CPB has a budget of about $450 million, and NPR gets about $99 million per year from the federal agency. Taxpayer money amounts to less than 10 percent of NPR’s total funding, according to a 2013 report from the radio network.
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