Trump’s budget takes a whack at everything

President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget eliminates funding for 19 agencies, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Legal Services Corp.

In his first budget proposal released Thursday, Trump is cutting discretionary spending to pay for an increase in defense spending and a wall on the Mexican border, according to the Washington Post and USA Today.

Of course it’ll be up to Congress to reconcile the president’s proposals with the wishes of the electorate. If a recent national voter survey on support for public broadcasting is any clue, there’s a big fight brewing.

Seventy-three percent of voters are against eliminating federal funding for public television. Republicans are against it by a margin of nearly 2-1. (62 percent to 32 percent.)

“The voters that elected the president, including a majority of Republicans, put the taxpayer value delivered by public television on par with building highways, roads and bridges. Both are seen as high-value investments in America and its future,” said Linda DiVall, a member of the bipartisan polling team

A top reason for protecting federal funding is public television’s educational programming. It reaches 68 percent of all kids ages 2 to 8, providing educational media that’s proven to prepare kids for school, especially low-income and underserved children who don’t attend pre-school.

We’re willing to bet that most Americans wouldn’t agree that making America great starts with cutting off access to “Sesame Street.”

Eliminating the $445 million that goes through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting sounds like a lot of money, but it’s really about .01 percent of the federal budget.

The vast majority of that money is directed via grants to more than 1,500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations across the country, like Rocky Mountain PBS.

National Public Radio relies on the corporation for less than 1 percent of its revenue and PBS depends on the agency for less than 7 percent, according to Callum Borchers of the Washington Post’s online blog The Fix.

“In other words,” Borcher wrote, “defunding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would mean hurting the local TV and radio stations that a whole lot of Republican voters watch and listen to.”

The bottom line is that the federal investment in public broadcasting is vital seed money for stations located in rural America. About 11 percent of the funding for Rocky Mountain PBS comes from the corporation. There are some areas where the appropriation counts for 40-50 percent of their budget.

PBS and its member stations are rated No. 1 in public trust among nationally known institutions. Defunding public broadcasting erases a lot of good for very little savings.


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