In 1995, on the finish of the summer season after graduating from faculty, I interviewed for a job on Capitol Hill. At the beginning of the interview, I requested the freshman member of Congress (a conservative Republican) a foolish query: Had he meant, when he’d referred to as for eliminating the NEA, the National Endowment for the Arts, or the National Education Association?
“Both,” he replied.
How quaint and the way blissfully optimistic it now appears for a brand new congressman and a younger conservative to consider that it was potential to chop authorities right down to measurement. How naive for me and so many others to suppose the Republican Party was honest in its promise to return to restricted authorities.
President Donald Trump’s funds proposal for 2018 was extraordinary, calling for a 31 p.c lower to the EPA, a 29 p.c lower to the State Department, a 20 p.c lower to each the Department of Labor and the Department of Agriculture, and the elimination of funding for scores of issues the federal authorities ought to by no means have been funding—lots of them issues Republicans have been promising to chop for greater than 20 years, just like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
But Republicans in Congress final week ignored the president, permitting solely modest spending cuts to companies, and, unbelievably, refusing to chop defund the CPB, the NEA, and the NEH. This is infuriating and bewildering for these of us who’ve listened to Republicans complain about NPR for the final 20 years. The GOP even refused to just accept the White House’s assertion that it wanted a rise of solely $52 billion for the Department of Defense, insisting on giving it many billions extra.
You would suppose the street to ending taxpayer funding of at the very least the CPB had been paved, what with a number of prime NPR staffers accused of sexual harassment in simply the previous few months, together with the chief information editor, David Sweeney, who was proven the door in November, and Michael Oreskes, the senior vp of stories and editorial director, who was compelled out after his lengthy profession as a sexual harasser was uncovered. And who might overlook Charlie Rose, whose younger feminine assistants have been summoned to his seaside home the place he answered the door in a bathrobe?
Then there was the 2011 Project Veritas video that confirmed NPR’s senior VP for fundraising, Ron Schiller, calling Tea Party conservatives “scary” and “seriously racist,” and telling males affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood that NPR can be “better off in the long run without federal funding.”
But most of all there’s the clear, constant, and actually unbelievable partisan nature of public radio and tv. When playwright David Mamet talked a number of years in the past about eager to punch the automotive radio each time NPR was on, half of America knew precisely what he was speaking about. It’s nearly not possible to pay attention for any size of time with out listening to Christians bashed, gun rights mocked, and conservatives misrepresented.
So why wasn’t it lower?
People in Washington clarify to me that the issue is that it takes 60 votes within the Senate to move appropriations payments. Yes, sure. But Democrats refuse to assist them anyway, so why not go for broke? Why not throw down the gauntlet and say, “That’s it, we’re not paying for this anymore no matter how much you yell and scream?”
I referred to as the workplace of Congressman Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, whose Appropriations subcommittee determined to maintain funding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and was pawned off on the communications director, who I used to be informed is just not out there. I left a message, however she didn’t name again. I emailed her, however she didn’t reply. I referred to as the House Appropriations Committee and bought the identical remedy.
It needs to be mentioned that journalism bears some blame. When was the final time a reporter requested Speaker Paul Ryan at a press convention why he’s going together with a thousand wasteful expenditures? Where was Fox News final summer season when the appropriations payments have been marked up in committee? Why weren’t they badgering Republican places of work to seek out out why the president’s request for “bold changes” have been being ignored?
On the rating of companies and packages most reviled by conservatives, simply behind the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Trump axed federal funding to each entities in his funds proposal, but the Republican appropriators utterly ignored this and funded them anyway.
Does anybody truthfully suppose there can be much less artwork in America with out the NEA? Does anybody suppose there can be fewer artists? What enterprise does the federal government have deciding what’s artwork?
The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities have been every funded to the tune of about $150 million yearly by Republicans in Congress this 12 months. That’s a drop within the bucket for Washington, however I knew an outdated girl dwelling on the streets in South Florida. When I attempted to discover a place the place she might lay her head at night time a pair years in the past, I used to be informed repeatedly, together with by authorities companies, that there was no housing and no cash for housing and no cash to assist discover housing. Not one greenback. She’s nonetheless on the market, I consider, if she hasn’t died from publicity to the weather. So you’ll forgive me if I see authorities’s spending priorities as a bit skewed.
Trump’s funds had additionally eradicated funding for the U.S. Institute of Peace, the East-West Center, The Asia Foundation, the Inter-America Foundation, the African Development Foundation, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Green Climate Fund.
In open defiance of the president—and with the nation $20 trillion in debt—the Appropriations subcommittee, led by Congressman Hal Rogers, Republican of Kentucky, saved cash for many of those, together with the U.S. Institute of Peace, a personal group that will get $38 million a 12 months from our authorities and that was described in a 2012 American Conservative article by J. Arthur Bloom as a “retirement home for aging foreign service officers who want to stay in the game.”
Rogers and his fellow subcommittee members additionally declined to chop funding for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based group based after World War II to manage the Marshall Plan. In addition to $70 million in annual charges and membership dues, U.S. taxpayers pay for tons of of federal staff to fly to Paris twice a 12 months for conferences on the group’s headquarters in a chateau constructed by Henri James de Rothschild.
During the 2016 presidential marketing campaign, the top of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a rich Mexican named Angel Gurria, informed Al Jazeera in an interview that he thought Donald Trump was a racist, and his deputy, an American named Doug Frantz, in contrast Trump’s marketing campaign to the rise of Hitler and Mussolini.
The Republican Study Group, made up of 70 House conservatives, had referred to as for OECD funding to be eradicated. They have been ignored.
But it was on protection spending that the Republican Congress fell hardest. Trump’s funds had referred to as for a four.5 p.c enhance in protection funding, which amounted to $54 billion greater than in 2017. It was the quantity the Pentagon mentioned it wished. But Republicans in Congress insisted it take billions extra—about 50 p.c extra.
If you return and watch the hearings on the protection funds final 12 months, you see Democrats meekly protesting, mentioning that the president by no means amended his funds request, and that the lengthy-promised audit of the Pentagon nonetheless has not occurred, even though authorities inspectors discover tons of of thousands and thousands of unaccounted for in Pentagon budgets at any time when they verify. You see the appearing undersecretary of protection and Pentagon CFO insisting to Congress that $54 billion “is not chump change.”
But Republicans wouldn’t be swayed, and final week they bought what they wished: a large $165 billion hike for the navy over two years.
The media claimed that “defense hawks” had received, however that wasn’t actually it in any respect. It was extra that Lockheed Martin had received, Raytheon had received, Boeing had received, General Dynamics had received, Northrup Grumman had received, United Technologies had received, BAE Systems had received, and the large Pentagon forms had received.
An outdated good friend, a retired senior staffer on the Pentagon, mentioned in an e-mail that she noticed a lot waste at DOD that it blew her thoughts. “Do they really need their own mini-State Dept?” she requested. “1500 people in the policy shop!! They travel and write memos…”
What hope has Trump of ever reining it in? What hope is there for conservatism now that it’s given up on the one factor that supposedly held it collectively?
Margaret Menge has labored as a journalist for the final 14 years, together with for the Miami Herald Company, UPI, and LifeZette. She has additionally been printed within the Columbia Journalism Review, New York Observer, Civil War Book Review, and on Breitbart.com. She beforehand labored in Republican politics.