Back in March, the Trump administration unveiled its Fiscal 2017-2018 budget blueprint. In order to increase military spending that’s already roughly the size of the next seven largest military budgets around the world, combined, Trump proposed stripping billions of dollars from science, the arts, and urban development programs. Fortunately, like so many of Trump’s other early actions, he’s failed.
Early Monday morning, Congressional leaders reached a deal on a spending bill that would fund the government through the end of September, Politico reports. Though it calls for an increase in military funding, as well as $1.5 billion in new border security, the budget will not fund Trump’s dumb wall. Better yet, previously threatened 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), will live to see another day.
All three of these programs will receiving funding under the deal. In fact, the NEA and NEH will each receive a $2 million increase in funding for a total of $300 million ($150 each). The CPB will receive $445 million, the same amount it received last year.
When the White House first proposed plans to slash arts programs and public broadcasting, Office of Budget and Manager Director Mick Mulvaney argued that there were “completely defensible reasons for doing that.” He went on, “I put myself in the shoes of that steel worker in Ohio, the coal mining family in West Virginia, the mother of two in Detroit. I have to go ask these folks for money and I have to tell them where I’m going to spend it. Can I really go to those folks, look at them in the eye, and say, ‘I want to take money from you and give it to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting?’ That is a really hard sell and it’s something we don’t think we can defend anymore.”
Aside from the racial undertones of his explanation, Mulvaney failed to mention that a minuscule portion (0.005%) of the $4 trillion federal budget is allocated to the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Corporation For Public Broadcasting. What’s more, these programs especially benefit many of Trump’s own constitutes. For example, more than 90% of CPB’s funding goes to local public broadcasters, many of which serve rural communities that predominantly voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump’s proposed budget prompted an immense backlash, with upwards of 110,000 people signing a petition we launched on the White House website. A second White House petition received 220,000 signatures. Fortunately, advocates of arts and free speech were victorious today — though, undoubtedly, the fight will be renewed come September.