Tuesday, February 07, 2006
In the president's 2007 budget request, funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting will be cut by $53.5 million in 2007 and $50 million more in 2008. Those cuts don't reflect others made in funding at the Education and Commerce departments and the elimination of specific programs for digital TV conversion and satellite delivery system. Public broadcasting officials estimate that the entire budget cuts run $157 million over the two-year period.
"Oscar the Grouch has been friendlier to the Sesame Street characters than President Bush, who has chosen to make huge cuts to children's television programming," said Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass. "In a world of fast-and-furious television with ratings-driven content, the public broadcasting system represents the last stronghold of quality child-oriented programming -- we owe this to America's children."
The cuts in public broadcasting are part of an attempt by the White House to reduce the country's red ink as the administration seeks more money for the military and seeks to make Bush's first-term tax cuts permanent.
Attempts by conservative Republicans to cut CPB funds are nothing new. Many conservatives view the public broadcasting as a bastion of liberalism. While there have been attempts to make cuts, the service has wide support in Congress from Republicans and Democrats who like its dedication to public affairs and educational programming.
Last year, an overwhelming majority in Congress voted to restore cuts proposed by the administration. This year, those cuts go even deeper, and it could be more difficult to win the fight in Congress, said John Lawson, president and CEO of the Association of Public Television Stations.
"We've dealt with cuts from this White House every year, but these are the deepest he's ever presented," Lawson said. "We see a clear and present danger here."
It took an advertising campaign from public TV stations to mobilize the service's supporters, something that might not be as effective a second time, he said.
"This is a tough environment in Washington right now, and we're competing with other priorities," Lawson said. "If you don't make your case, you lose," he said. "We won last year, but only after we asked the stations to go on the air and tell their communities what was happening. It's an effort we won't foreclose, but if you do that every year, it loses its effectiveness. We're going to try to win this one on the ground."
In his $2.77 billion budget, Bush asks Congress to sharply cut or eliminate 141 government programs. Almost one-third of the targeted programs are in education, including ones that provide money to support the arts, vocational education, parent resource centers and drug-free schools.
"My administration has focused the nation's resources on our highest priority -- protecting our citizens and our homeland," Bush said in his budget message.
Bush's spending proposals are for the 2007 budget year that begins October 1. The $2.77 trillion in spending would be up 2.3% from projected spending of $2.71 trillion this year.
The administration in its budget documents said the deficit for this year will soar to an all-time high of $423 billion, reflecting increased outlays for the Iraq war and hurricane relief.