Even to the most unread in politics, it should come as no surprise that the incoming administration is planning to make huge (HUGE) cuts in federal spending. Some of the biggest bulls eyes? Several federal agencies that support arts and humanities, as well as public broadcasting.
In a report from The Hill, both the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), two organizations that offer grants for artistic productions and more, would be completely eliminated from federal spending. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which promotes and supports public television, public radio and of course, PBS, would become privatized.
The proposed budget plan will reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years, and is in line with a blueprint published by conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, which has been working with the incoming administration. Transition team members Russ Vought and John Gray previously worked for the think tank (as well as Mike Pence) and are the two discussing the cuts in arts spending.
America has long had a love/hate relationship with this type of federal spending. Ronald Reagan attempted to eliminate in 1981 and fellow republican Newt Gingrich tried again to kill it again in the mid-90’s but were limited to just cutting budget spending. Compared to countries like Canada and the U.K., the U.S. has always been significantly behind in terms of funding for arts and public media.
The NEA has already endured significant budget cuts following the recession-with funding 14 percent lower than in 2010, dropping $21.5 million to just $146 million as of 2015. Combined, the budgets of both the NEH and NEA barely account for more than .002 percent of federal discretionary spending, although a report by the Bureau of Economic Analysis concluded that arts and cultural production contributes more than $704 billion to the U.S. economy—4.2 percent of the U.S. GDP (more than construction, transportation and warehousing industries).
The Department of Energy (Office of Electricity, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Office of Fossil Energy), the Department of Justice (Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Violence Against Women Grants, Legal Services Corporation), and the State Department (Overseas Private Investment Corporation, United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Paris Climate Change Agreement) are all facing severe cuts or elimination entirely.
While it will ultimately be Congress that approves the new budget plans, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is a well-known deficit hawk who will find plenty of support in the Republican-controlled Congress. If you find yourself upset by any number of these potential cuts, write, email and call your local congressman or congresswoman.