United States government workers who’d hoped their legacies would endure for decades in painted portraits were dealt a crushing blow today, when President Trump signed the “Eliminating Government-funded Oil-painting Act” into law.
The bill — dubbed the “EGO Act” for short — “prohibits the use of funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the federal government to pay for an official portrait of an officer or employee of the federal government.” Though it is unlikely to have any impact on official presidential portraits like the recently unveiled Obama portraits — which are generally privately funded — it does mean that no future Secretary of the Air Force will get to spend $41,200 in government funds on an official portrait (as Michael B. Donley did, according to USA Today).
The title of the bill suggests that it solely targets oil paintings, although its text is less specific and covers all paintings regardless of material. The law does not, however, explicitly ban official portraits rendered in oil stick, charcoal, ink, bronze, clay, and a range of other materials. (The legal standing of menstrual blood as a portrait medium remains unknown.)
The EGO Act was introduced by Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and is intended to cut down on spending of taxpayer dollars. “I came to Congress to cut wasteful spending,” Cassidy wrote on Twitter after his bill became law. “Our debt is over $20 trillion. There’s no excuse for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on paintings of government officials.”
Thanks @realDonaldTrump for signing the Eliminating Government-funded Oil-painting (EGO) Act into law. I came to Congress to cut wasteful spending. Our debt is over $20 trillion. There’s no excuse for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on paintings of government officials.
— Bill Cassidy (@BillCassidy) March 28, 2018
Though the EGO Act found favor with the current Republican-controlled Congress and White House — Trump, after all, is known to have very strong opinions about portraits — Senator Cassidy’s previous attempt to get the bill passed was scuttled in 2015 by then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
“That people in Washington would be insufficiently aware that the average family is making $40,000 a year, the same as what one of these paintings can cost and not care, is an indictment of those who do not care,” Cassidy said at the time. “I regret that there is objection to this, but we will bring it up later, and I thank you for your time.”
This time around, the bill received bipartisan support, including from two Democrats who co-sponsored the EGO Act, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Senator Jon Tester of Montana.
“Good riddance. Why the government ever used taxpayer dollars to pay for fancy paintings of government officials is beyond me, and I’m glad to have worked across the aisle to eliminate this ridiculous practice,” McCaskill said in a statement. “Missourians expect me to be their voice in Washington and protect their hard-earned taxpayer dollars. I’m proud that there’s now one less absurd thing that Missourians are on the hook for.”
According to a 2012 report by the Washington Times, the government had, in the previous year, spent some $180,000 on official portraits. For comparison’s sake, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the Republican tax plan passed last December will add more than $1.4 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years.
So the GOP ends another beloved American tradition in order to save a few thousand dollars, while blowing a trillion dollar hole in the deficit with the most bloated budget in American history and a President who grifts and bilks the American taxpayer for millions? That’s the definition of “Penny wise and pound foolish”, as Mr. Franklin liked to say. Meanwhile, what about the artists who count on those commissions to make a living? Republicans are literally the worst. We’ve got to vote them ALL out and never, ever let these lobotomized cretins and thugs near the reins of government again.
So the GOP ends another beloved American tradition in order to save a few thousand dollars, while blowing a trillion dollar hole in the deficit with the most bloated budget in American history and a President who grifts and bilks the American taxpayer for millions? That’s the definition of “Penny wise and pound foolish”, as Mr. Franklin liked to say. Meanwhile, what about the artists who count on those commissions to make a living? Republicans are literally the worst. We’ve got to vote them ALL out in November.
You neglect to mention Matt Cartwright being the sponsor of the House version.
Clearly it’s the occasional hiring of an American artist for an oil painting that’s bankrupting us. Not that we have a military budget larger than the next 12 largest militaries combined that we that increased by another 100 billion. The Devos family really can’t stand a penny going to anything besides Blackwater.
A well known fellow artist was commissioned to paint Trump before he became President. He could not stand still more than 3 minutes at a time. She said it was like trying to negotiate with a child. She asked him to hold still just 5 more minutes to get her under drawing done. She said he pissed his pants and yelled at her, “look what YOU made me do!”
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