Surprise! Democrats Outraged at Potential Cuts to Public Broadcasting and Arts Programs

The left has already begun attacking a Trump budget plan that hasn’t yet been produced. The Independent has recently published a handful of stories, including this one, attacking Trump’s plan to “slash funding to public broadcasting and arts programs.” They source the NY Times as well, which has revealed a “hit list” of popular programs on the chopping block. The left is already in an expectant uproar.

If we want to have a serious discussion about runaway spending, then it’s about time. But Democrats can’t, on the one hand, complain about cuts to things like arts & humanities if they’re unwilling, on the other hand, to seriously tackle unfunded liabilities and entitlement reform.

The Hill highlights Trump’s “dramatic” plans to cut approximately $10 trillion over 10 years. But the problem is we still don’t know the details. It seems premature to speculate about the privatization of PBS just yet if we don’t have the actual details of the plan. Besides, how will Congress work with Trump’s team to craft legislation? The Hill article also mentions that Russ Vought and John Gray are laying the groundwork:

Vought and Gray, who both worked for the Heritage Foundation, are laying the groundwork for the so-called skinny budget — a 175- to 200-page document that will spell out the main priorities of the incoming Trump administration, along with summary tables. That document is expected to come out within 45 days of Trump taking office.

The administration’s full budget, including appropriations language, supplementary materials and long-term analysis, is expected to be released toward the end of Trump’s first 100 days in office, or by mid- to late April.

That’s encouraging to me as a longtime supporter of the Heritage Foundation. It’s reassuring to see two conservatives working to shape the groundwork. When it comes to the budget and the disastrous path of government spending, Heritage Foundation is one of the leading think tanks that’s willing to look at the cold hard facts.

The Cato Institute, another fiscally conservative think tank with a more libertarian bend, published a great piece in 2015. It should be noted that the Republicans are almost as much to blame as the Democrats for the fiscal mess in Washington:

Meanwhile, Republicans give frequent lip service to the debt crisis, but pretend that you can deal with the debt crisis by eliminating “waste, fraud, and abuse” in the federal budget. Nor can you balance the budget by focusing on the usual suspects that Republicans love to criticize. Foreign aid amounts to less than 1 percent of federal spending. Federal subsidies to Planned Parenthood and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting amount to a combined 0.0002 percent.

It’s well known the George W and the Republicans in Congress lead the way a record amount of spending during his two terms. Only to be far outdone, however, by Obama’s two terms.

Even worse, though, Democrats by and large turn a blind eye to the root of the problem. As the Cato author explains:

The Democrats either deny that there is a problem or insist that it could be solved if only the wealthy paid higher taxes. But even if one thought that tax increases were a good idea, and could be implemented without killing jobs or slowing economic growth, it is simply impossible to increase taxes enough to close the budget gap. In particular, raising taxes on the wealthy falls far short of what would be required to pay for our current and future obligations. In fact, if you confiscated every penny owned by every person earning more than a million dollars a year, you would raise roughly $16.6 trillion—nowhere near enough to fund our debt.

In reality, the tax hike needed to pay our way out from under the mountain of future debt is almost beyond comprehension. Consider that, in 2008, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that in order to simply pay for then-projected spending, we would have to raise both the corporate tax rate and the top individual tax rate to 88 percent, raise the rate for middle-income workers to 63 percent, and raise the rate for low income Americans to 25 percent. Since then we’ve added another $8.84 trillion in debt, meaning rates would have to be even higher today. Does anyone really believe that such tax rates are possible?

We need a common-sense approach. If the Democrats are actually willing to play ball with entitlement reform and willing to help right the ship of the debt crisis, then who really cares about relatively minimal spending around arts & humanities? What we can’t do is continue to turn a blind eye and treat the terminal budget wound with band-aids.

The Republican Congress appears flat-footed to begin 2017, playing with the lead like the Atlanta Falcons in the 2nd half of the Superbowl. They’re operating as if the legislature is purely designed to sit on its heels and wait for the executive to come up with a plan. Let’s go, already!

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Matt Christensen

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