Romney May Try to Scrap Arts, Humanities and PBS


If Mitt Romney follows through on a reported threat to cut federal funding for the arts, humanities and public television, mark it down as ancient radical right politics stretching back to Reaganomics.

Ronald Reagan initially wanted to abolish the arts in the ’80s, but some of his conservative allies judged the funding as necessary and valuable, so he backed off. Newt Gingrich and his cronies hoped to end federal funding for cultural programs in the ’90s as part of their “Contract with America,” but America didn’t sign it. Congress’s Republican Study Committee in January 2011 pledged to end arts funding, and Republican governors recently have taken shots at similar efforts.

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Jillian Steinhauer reported this weekend in the online arts journal Hyperallergic-and follow this closely now-that Politico has released excerpts from Fortune magazine’s interview with Romney in an upcoming issue. In his interview, the Republican presidential candidate reportedly is saying:

[F]irst there are programs I would eliminate. Obamacare being one of them but also various subsidy programs – the Amtrak subsidy, the PBS subsidy, the subsidy for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities. Some of these things, like those endowment efforts and PBS I very much appreciate and like what they do in many cases, but I just think they have to stand on their own rather than receiving money borrowed from other countries, as our government does on their behalf.

Steinhauer says that Amtrak, PBS, the NEA and NEH together cost American taxpayers for fiscal 2012 about $2 billion. Our research shows that’s close to the same cost as the U.S. military’s Predator drone program, which for 2011 was $2.38 billion. To clarify the programs’ purposes, Amtrak transports humans nationwide, while PBS, the arts and humanities feed their aesthetic spirits and inspire creative problem-solving and human connection. The drone program executes humans, including American citizens, without trial or warning.

You might decide for yourself which programs you feel should be scrapped, and let Romney and Congressional candidates know.

Read more about PBS here.

Read more about the NEA here.

Read more about the NEH here.

Read more about the military’s use of drones here.