Today’s shocker: A Republican Who Wants to Cut Arts Funding!
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has penned an Op-Ed for the USA Today newspaper in which he says he would “eliminate every government program that is not absolutely essential.”
He then goes into specifics and takes aim at the battered National Endowment for the Arts:
Enact deep reductions in the subsidies for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Legal Services Corporation.
His idea would essentially gut an organzation that has already had their budget cut by 6% this year to total $146.255 million.
The Huffington Post provides some context for Romney’s proposed cuts to arts funding, and it appears he isn’t a shining example of an arts champion:
Romney’s track record reveals many attempts to reduce cultural agency funding while governor of Massachusetts. In 2006, Romney tried to veto the creation of a Cultural Facilities Fund, which aids nonprofit arts, scientific and historical organization in construction costs. Legislature overrode the veto and $37 million has been granted by the state under the program. Although, Romney’s view remains in contrast with many of his GOP cohorts that would rather see the programs cut, but it still represents a step to the right for a man who was once known as a relatively moderate conservative.
To put things into perspective, the current budget of the NEA is:
- less than the amount Meg Whitman spent on her failed 2010 gubernatorial race in California last year ($166 million),
- less than the $175 million the US Department of Veterans Affairs spent in 2010 to maintain hundreds of buildings that it does not even use, including a pink, octagonal monkey house in the city of Dayton, Ohio.
- waaay less than the federal money Evangelical Liberty University receives ($445 million), and
- nowhere near the $175,587 that the government spent in 2010 for a study on the link between cocaine and the mating habits of quail (wait, wasn’t that an art project by Rob Pruitt?).
The peak of NEA funding was in 1990, when the organization received $171 million, which doesn’t even factor in inflation.
Btw, let’s not forget the debt-ceiling shenanigans last summer that cost taxpayers $18 million, or 12% of the 2011 NEA budget … because THAT was obviously important.