The two biggest news stories involving the Trump Administration is the attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and his budget. I will be focusing on the latter. The budget is a trainwreck for multiple reasons including steep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, permanently cutting the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and an increase in an already bloated military budget that probably would not even result in a pay raise for our troops. As a theatre major, the one I want to focus on is Trump’s plan to cut the National Endowment for the Arts and why we should save the organization.
The National Endowment for the Arts was established in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson with the mission of being “dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bring the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts. In 2016, the organization recommended more than 2,400 grants for nearly 16,000 in every congressional district in the country for 22 different artistic disciplines. While the NEA is very valuable to the artistic community, the organization has been the target of the Republican Party. The first attempt occurred 1981 with the beginning of the Reagan administration, but was aborted once the administration discovered the agency’s importance. However, other conservative organizations have still targeted the organization.
The NEA has become a conservative symbol of an unnecessary bureaucracy and wasteful government spending, which is why Trump is targeting the organization within his new budget. The problem is, all of the attacks against the agency is inaccurate. Last year, the percentage of government spending of the NEA was .0004 percent amounting to $0.40 out of your paycheck, annually. The annual spending of the agency is also less than the cost of Trump’s presidential inauguration and the cost of keeping secret service agents in Trump Tower so Melania and Barron don’t have to live in the White House. So there’s nothing cost effective about cutting the NEA, and then there’s what will be lost once the NEA is defunded.
As stated before, the NEA grants reaches out to every congressional district in the country. 30 percent of the funding goes to small organizations with budgets less than $350,000, and the other 70 percent is split between mid-size organization and direct grants. So while conservatives try to say the agency only funds the artistic elite, the artistic elite might be somewhat effective, but will still be able to continue on in major cities like New York and Chicago. What will be hurt by the end of the NEA will be the smaller, rural communities that would not have funds and access to the arts any other way besides the NEA. So whenever the Trump administration uses the argument that a lower incomes family should not have to pay for the agency, it’s going to the lower income families that will be screwed over.
This attempt to defund the agency is nothing but a political stunt, and will not decrease your taxes, especially since it will just go into other already bloated funding for other programs. However, society has a lot to lose from the NEA, with a huge loss of access to the arts for small, rural communities. So, to save the arts, please sign the petition to save the organization, and contact your local representative and senator, and the Trump administration to stop them from defunding the agency. The arts depend on it.