Romney to ax art funding

In an upcoming Fortune interview, Romney says he will cut funding for the arts if elected

Topics: Hyperallergic, Obamacare, National Endowment for the Arts, Mitt Romney, Republican Party,

This article originally appeared on Hyperallergic.

Politico has excerpts from an upcoming Mitt Romney interview in Fortune magazine, in which the Republican presidential candidate expounds on his plan to shrink the federal government and reduce spending. Depressingly, but not surprisingly, he targets arts funding, saying:

[F]irst there are programs I would eliminate. Obamacare being one of them but also various subsidy programs — the Amtrak subsidy, the PBS subsidy, the subsidy for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities. Some of these things, like those endowment efforts and PBS I very much appreciate and like what they do in many cases, but I just think they have to stand on their own rather than receiving money borrowed from other countries, as our government does on their behalf.

This means not a reduction in the funding for PBS or either of the National Endowments but complete elimination. Goodbye, NEA! It’s been a wild ride. (On a side note: Amtrak is already a hot mess. Privatizing it would seem to be the last nail in the coffin of nationwide public transport. Americans love their damn cars so much it makes me sick.)

Over at the Washingon Post, Ezra Klein points out how little money would actually be saved from cutting these programs, especially when you consider that Romney’s goal — to reduce federal spending and balance the budget — would require $9.6 trillion in non-defense cuts by 2022:

Here’s how it breaks down: In fiscal year 2012, the federal government spent $1.42 billion on Amtrak, $444 million on PBS, and $146 million on the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities. Getting rid of all these subsidies would have saved the government about $2 billion this year — chump change relative to the scale of cuts that Romney wants.

You could, of course, make the argument that every little bit counts, and you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. But there’s a larger conversation here, about the role of the federal government in arts funding. Should we expect it — or at this point, after decades of struggling to hold on to just a little piece of the pie, should we let it go? Alyssa Rosenberg at Think Progress sums up the bigger philosophical question, about the role of the government:

You Might Also Like

Should the government perform functions only that we believe shouldn’t be allowed to be controlled by private interests, like control, regulation, and deployment of the armed forces? Or should it step into voids left by private enterprise and personal charity when there are important functions that don’t appear to be supported by the market?

But the issue is further complicated by the fact there’s more than one government — we have federal, state, and city governments, and funding is offered at all different levels. If we decide that promoting, say, a poetry program in schools is simply not the job of the federal government, does that then give a green light to local governments to drop the arts, too? Could it create a chain reaction down the line, until we end up with arts organizations left completely to fend for themselves, relying solely on endowments and private donors?

Then again, some might say that wouldn’t be the end of the world.

A big part of the problem, too, is that even though the arts do offer real-world economic benefits, they also offer intangible ones whose worth can’t be objectively measured and turned into an infographic. That makes arguing for funding a perpetually uphill battle. Maybe we would save ourselves some time and effort if we just let the governments do whatever they want — although arts organizations would still have to make their case, just to potential donors and voters instead.

Rosenberg astutely points out, though, that we’re not even having the right conversation yet. Romney is simply following in a long line of Republicans who have used claims of cutting arts funding as a diversionary tactic, a way to appeal to conservative voters without having to talk about what a smaller government would actually look like. Until that happens, PBS, the NEA and the NEH will continue to be used as pawns — knocked off the board by one politician and then tentatively placed back on by another.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 8
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Sonic's Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog

    Sonic calls this a "gourmet twist" on a classic. I am not so, so fancy, but I know that sprinkling bacon and cheddar cheese onto a tube of pork is not gourmet, even if you have made a bun out of something that is theoretically French.

    Krispy Kreme

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Krispy Kreme's Doughnut Dog

    This stupid thing is a hotdog in a glazed doughnut bun, topped with bacon and raspberry jelly. It is only available at Delaware's Frawley Stadium, thank god.


    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    KFC's Double Down Dog

    This creation is notable for its fried chicken bun and ability to hastily kill your dreams.

    Pizza Hut

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza

    Pizza Hut basically just glued pigs-in-blankets to the crust of its normal pizza. This actually sounds good, and I blame America for brainwashing me into feeling that.

    Carl's Jr.

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Carl's Jr. Most American Thick Burger

    This is a burger stuffed with potato chips and hot dogs. Choose a meat, America! How hard is it to just choose a meat?!

    Tokyo Dog

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Tokyo Dog's Juuni Ban

    A food truck in Seattle called Tokyo Dog created this thing, which is notable for its distinction as the Guinness Book of World Records' most expensive hot dog at $169. It is a smoked cheese bratwurst, covered in butter Teriyaki grilled onions, Maitake mushrooms, Wagyu beef, foie gras, black truffles, caviar and Japanese mayo in a brioche bun. Just calm down, Tokyo Dog. Calm down.


    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Limp Bizkit's "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water"

    This album art should be illegal.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>