The White House’s budget director justified proposed cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting by saying that it’s not fair to ask a “single mom in Detroit” or a “coal miner” to pay for it.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting funds PBS, which airs “Sesame Street” and other children’s shows. President Donald Trump’s federal budget plan, released on Thursday morning, proposes axing federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
“When you start looking at places that we reduce spending, one of the questions we asked was can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs? The answer was no,” Mick Mulvaney told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday. “We can ask them to pay for defense, and we will, but we can’t ask them to continue to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”
Sesame Street partnered with HBO last year after years of financial struggles. While new episodes first air on the premium cable network, PBS still airs reruns that viewers can watch for free.
The Trump administration plans to increase military spending by $54 billion. In comparison, the CPB receives less than $500 million per year from the federal government.
The notion that people’s tax dollars shouldn’t be spent on programs they don’t use is confusing enough; by that logic, the taxes from people without children wouldn’t go toward public schools and people who drive to work wouldn’t pay for public transportation. But Mulvaney’s comment is especially bizarre considering Sesame Street’s viewership: parents and their children.
CPB, which supports NPR and PBS, currently receives about $485 million per year, according to The Washington Post. As it rolled out its budget this week, the Trump administration was unequivocal about its plans to end federal support for CPB as part of a number of steep cuts to pay for an increase in defense spending.
“We proposed ending funding, but technically what you’ll see—it’s an elimination—but you’ll see an amount of money in the budget, and it is some amount of money that’s necessary for us to unwind our involvement with CPB,” Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, told reporters on Wednesday. “So you won’t see a zero next to it, but the policy is that we’re ending federal involvement with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”
Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of CPB, said in a statement that the elimination of federal funds would be devastating.
“There is no viable substitute for federal funding that ensures Americans have universal access to public media’s educational and informational programming and services,” Harrison said. “The elimination of federal funding to CPB would initially devastate and ultimately destroy public media’s role in early childhood education, public safety, connecting citizens to our history, and promoting civil discussions – all for Americans in both rural and urban communities.”
“Public media is one of America’s best investments. At approximately $1.35 per citizen per year, it pays huge dividends to every American,” she continued.
Trump could fund CPB, which was created as a nonprofit by Congress in 1967, for 121 years with the $54 billion he is seeking to increase military spending, according to The Washington Post.