Public broadcasting fires back at White House over proposed budget cuts

PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have pushed back against a White House budget proposal that would drastically cut, or eliminate entirely, funding to the organizations as part of a major realignment of fiscal priorities that includes a big increase in defense spending.

“PBS and our nearly 350 member stations,” said a statement released Thursday, “along with our viewers, continue to remind Congress of our strong support among Republican and Democratic voters, in rural and urban areas across every region of the country. We have always had support from both parties in Congress, and will again make clear what the public receives for federal funding for public broadcasting. The cost of public broadcasting is small, only $1.35 per citizen per year, and the benefits are tangible: increasing school readiness for kids 2-8, support for teachers and homeschoolers, lifelong learning, public safety communications and civil discourse.”

The statement also cites one poll showing that only 21 percent of Americans (32 percent of Republicans) favor ending public broadcasting support, and another that found 70 percent of Trump voters (and 83 percent of Americans overall) saying they want Congress to find savings elsewhere.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which distributes federal funding to more than 1,000 radio and 300 television stations nationwide, also issued a statement Thursday morning:

“There is no viable substitute for federal funding that ensures Americans have universal access to public media’s educational and informational programming and services. 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 discussion — all for Americans in both rural and urban communities.”

The White House budget is essentially a wish list of priorities. Congress must pass a real budget, which often is very different from what was proposed by the president — even presidents of the same party.

On Thursday morning, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney defended the proposed cuts.

“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,” said Mulvaney on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “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.”

Some West Virginians are currently pushing back against proposed cuts in the state budget for public broadcasting funding. According to the Center for Public Broadcasting, 248 of the 575 stations that receive funding from the CPB are located in rural areas and employ 5,900 people.

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