Tomorrow marks the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency. If new reports are accurate, it could also mark the beginning of the end of federally funded arts programs.
According to The Hill (via SPIN), Trump’s transition team has been discussing ways to reduce federal bureaucracy and cut the national budget. As such, many agencies could be on the chopping block, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports the likes of PBS, NPR, and other public TV and radio outlets. While Trump’s plan is to privatize the CPB, he’s looking to kill the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities in their entirety.
Without the NEA and NEH, artists and educators could be left with struggling to find grants for their projects, which include exhibitions, research, productions, and public programs. Conservatives have long targeted the arts agencies, from Ronald Reagan to Newt Gingrich. While they’ve occasionally succeeded in cutting the NEA’s budget, Trump is seeking to completely end it. Perhaps he’s ticked off that Sylvester Stallone turned down his offer to chair the NEA’s board?
The plan follows very closely to a blueprint Trump’s team was provided by conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, which the transition team has been hewing to rather steadily. These cuts alongside reductions of the departments of Commerce, Energy, Transportation, Justice (!), and State could reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years. The NEA and NEH each received only $150 million in 2015, meaning their inclusion in these cuts is comparatively petty.
Of course, Trump plans to use those savings to add $450 billion to the deficit by inflating military spending that’s already more than the next seven countries’ defense budgets combined. And then he’ll rub it in your face.
Two of Trump’s transition team members — Russ Vought, Vice President of Grassroots Outreach at The Heritage Foundation and former aide to Vice President-elect Mike Pence; and John Gray, a former staffer for Pence, Rand Paul, and Paul Ryan — are expected to deliver a 175- to 200-page “skinny budget” within the first month and a half of Trump’s presidency. A full budget will then come as the Commander in Creep wraps his first 100 days.
There is some hope, however, as Trump’s Cabinet picks have yet to be briefed on the reforms, and they have the chance to offer feedback and suggest changes. What’s more, even when Republicans controlled the House in 2015, they failed to pass a similarly harsh budget by a vote of 132 to 294. Moderate GOP members are already pushing back against Trump’s plans for Obamacare, and hopefully his proposed cuts will face similar resistance. Call your reps, and pray the Purge doesn’t begin tomorrow.