It’s entirely possible that Donald Trump will be impeached by the time 2018 rolls around. But, as of today, he’s still president and thus, tragically, his administration gets to draw up the federal budget — pending congressional approval. The country got a preview of the administration’s diabolical cost-cutting ways back in March when it proposed a short-term skinny budget for 2017. In order to increase military spending that’s already roughly the size of the next seven largest military budgets around the world, combined, Trump and his goons proposed stripping billions of dollars from science, the arts, urban development, and health programs. Fortunately, much of the proposal was gutted in Congress and funding for Planned Parenthood, National Institute of Health, and the Corporation For Public Broadcasting was left untouched. Now, though, Trump has rolled out his fiscal budget for 2018, and he’s once again going after these aforementioned programs.
Specifically regarding federally-funded arts programs, including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), as well as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the latest proposal calls for an end to all federal funding by 2019. The money provided to these programs under the 2018 proposal would be designated for shutting down operations.
Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA and NEH are independent federal agencies which provide crucial grants for arts education and enrichment programs across the country. Those grants fund everything from jazz and orchestral performances in your community to larger-scale events like the Mission Creek Music Festival. Founded in 1967, the CPB is a private, non-profit corporation supporting PBS, NPR, and other public TV and radio outlets.
In 2017, $300 million in federal funding was allocated for both the NEA and NEH, and $445 million to the CPB. In the proposed 2018 budget, only $29 million is allocated for the NEA and NEH, and $30.45 million for the CPB.
Even at their current levels, funding for national endowments make up a minuscule portion — about 0.003% (!) — of the nearly $4 trillion federal budget. For comparison, the cost of Trump’s regular trips to Florida are on pace to exceed $120 million in 2017, while taxpayers are on the hook for another $130 million so that First Lady Melania Trump and their son Barron can continue living in New York City.
In response to the proposed cuts, NEH chairman William D. Adams announced his resignation on Monday. His counterpart, NEA chairwoman Jane Chu, promised to continue usual operations until Congress has its say. She said in a past statement, “As a federal government agency, the NEA cannot engage in advocacy, either directly or indirectly. We will, however, continue our practice of educating about the NEA’s vital role in serving our nation’s communities.”
In a statement issued today, CPB president and CEO Patrica Harrison stressed the importance of public broadcasting. “This is a service that benefits all Americans — those living in rural and urban areas who rely on broadcast for programs that are proven to get their children ready to learn, and provide access to life saving emergency alerts, as well as those for whom public media levels the playing field in terms of high-quality educational and informational content, through programs such as NOVA and Nature — all for approximately $1.35 in taxes per person each year.”
“The elimination of federal funding would take away this vital foundation,” she added. “Local public media stations, beginning with those serving rural communities and small towns, would cease to exist. Ultimately what would also cease to exist is high-quality commercial free early childhood content focused on educating our youngest citizens, and access to lifelong learning for all.”
In fact, it’s Trump’s own constituents who stand to lose the most from these proposed budget cuts. Specifically regarding the CPB, more than 90% of its federal funding goes to local public broadcasters, many of which serve rural communities that predominantly voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election. The situation is even more dire when it comes to Medicaid, Social Security, agriculture subsidies, and student aid.