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Report: Trump Administration Plans to Privatize CPB, Cut NEA

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As the new administration prepares to move into the White House this week, The Hill reported Thursday of the incoming administration’s plan to privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and cut funding completely to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

The Hill’s coverage states that the Trump administration aims to trim overall federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years. The plans are said to include the elimination of the national endowments, major reductions in funding for the departments of energy and commerce, as well as significant cuts to the departments of justice, transportation, and state.

Such cuts sync with the desires of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank focused on promoting policies, according to its website, “based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.” The foundation has pushed for the privatization of the CPB and for cutting national endowments since the 1990s.

The Hill reports that two members of Trump’s transition team — Russ Vought, a former aide to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and John Gray, a former staffer for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — both previously worked at the Heritage Foundation.

The CPB, the largest source of funding for public radio, television, and related online and mobile services in the country, receives $445 million a year from the federal government, which constitutes just .001 percent of the total federal budget. According to the CPB, 70 percent of its funds go to supporting local affiliate stations across the nation, and funding the entity costs taxpayers $1.35 each per year.


The NEA receives $148 million a year, or .0003 percent of the total federal budget. It funds a wide variety of artistic productions, exhibitions and programs, including many in the Bay Area: in the most recent list of grants, local groups such as the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Kala Institute and the Healdsburg Jazz Festival received awards of tens of thousands of dollars.

Conservatives have pushed to eliminate the NEA since the Reagan administration first took office in 1981. Later that decade, the NEA was at the center of a public policy fight led by Republican Sen. Jesse Helms, who attacked artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano who received federal funding to create controversial art works.

Cutting all of the programs listed in the Hill article would account for just .55 percent of the $10.5 trillion that Trump’s administration hopes to slash from the budget, according to Michael Linden, policy and research director at the Hub Project.

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