Friday, March 24, 2017

Budget Cut Open Thread

Trump submitted his proposed budget to Congress last week and in his budget he has many proposed cuts. Some of these cuts include defunding the NEA, NEH, and NPR. Now, the defunding of the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) is actually one that I have been advocated since the Jesse Helms/Andres Serrano-Piss Christ episode in the late '80s/early 90s. But not for the reason you might think.

Now I don't know what you may or may not have thought of "Piss Christ" for which the taxpayers paid $20,000, but whether it is art is immaterial. I believe that no artist or arts group should take money from any entity that demands to tell an artist or arts group what they must or can produce. No artist should put themselves in that position. I am also a firm believer if you make it, they will come and give you money if if what you are doing is of value.

So, what do you think about this or anything else that strikes you fancy.


Anthony said...

*Shrugs* Not sure what Congress will do with it, but the budget looks reasonable.

Art is a tiny part of the budget (0.004% according to Huckabee) but public funding of the arts is something the US can live without. When they think of public funding most conservatives thing 'Piss Christ' and 'Hollywood' so its not only a sensible target, its a safe target for a right leaning populist like Trump.

Art organizations and artists will just need to hone their grant seeking skills (plenty of billionaires and big corporations floating around), start charging (more) or just do something else.

All cuts are painful for someone, but cuts need to happen. The devil is in the details so while most Americans can concede the budget is too large, most don't support cuts which impact them or anyone/thing they like, so cutting is always contentious.

BevfromNYC said...

Anthony - I agree with you. Communities can "fund the arts". ANd there is a valid point that the NEA/Arts funding really only benefits the wealthy anyway. An luxury that they can already afford.

The other issue is that what the government giveth it can taketh away if you become an enemy of government. It is a problem as old as time. So better off not taking money from any entity that can shut you down at will when you are out of favor. The first institutions to be censored by the government are those that are funded by the government.

I am also in favor of government defunding Planned Parenthood for a similar reason. If the real issue is that people don't want to have their tax dollars to fund abortions, then don't take money from the government. Saying "NO" to taking the gov't dollars completely shuts down that argument. And makes PP (and similarly situated organizations) even more sympathic to private donors.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Trump is defunding 19 "agencies", killing meals for wheels so old people starve, trying to take away medical care from veterans, and trying to eliminate Big Bird. What else do you need to know? He's worse than Hilter.

Oh, btw, the ethics people have now said there is nothing unethical about him owning Trump Towers. So yet another leftist smear goes down in flames. But wait, he and Melina aren't sleeping in the same bed anymore!!! We know this because we wish it was true!

BevfromNYC said...

The PBS/Big Bird budget cut issue was pretty much shot down immediately when it was made clear that Sesame Street has moved to HBO and the billions of dollars that have been made from products/toys/jammies/lunchboxes etc. that has been made.

So, Sesame Street should fully fund PBS as a tax writeoff!

As for Meals-on-Wheels, as soon as it was publicized that their fed dollars were on the chopping block, the private money started rolling in tthat fully covers what they might lose. So, there's that too.

The only medical care that has been taken away from Vets so far is the personnel that has caused the lack of it for years. Lots of firings for manipulating wait times for treatments etc. Let's hope that the VA becomes a functioning member of the medical community again.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, All very good points.

That said, I don't think it matters to the left. These are the same attacks they made in the Bush I era and then the Newt era. This is how they smear budgets, whether it matters or not.

Keep in mind, these are the same people who strip-mined Medicare to pay for Obamacare subsidies to illegals and poor people, and now they care about old people?

These are the same people who let the VA turn into such a clusterf*ck and who hate the military and spit on Veterans when they were hipster kids... and now they care about veterans? No sale.

BevfromNYC said...

The real lesson is that "Goverment" should start the ball rolling by encouraging communities with temporary grants that grandfather out after a specific periods of time. Not stay a permanent fixture the budget.

However our Congresscritters have absolutely no problem with grandfathering out tax cuts for the middle class that they have given "temporarily" like the Bush's temporary Employment tax cut that the Dems leg go 'cause well there's a huge "deficit/debt" that we need money to cover and we CAN'T CUT SESAME STREET!!!!! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!!

BevfromNYC said...

I realize that my raging "Fiscal Conservative"-ness is showing...

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, The thing is...

I think you're not fully grasping the ideological difference here. You are being rational. You understand that the government cannot and should not be funding everything anybody wants. You also understand that things like Semsame Street can survive in the private market.

On the other side, the left wants the things they like funded by the government. They think rich taxpayers should pay for everything. They think private money is corrupting.

So when you talk about rational ways to handle the budget, you are wasting your breath with the left who are simply arguing with you to keep you busy as they try to find ways to win people over to full funding of everything.

BevfromNYC said...

See, this is the amazing disconnect with Liberals:

"...the left wants the things they like funded by the government. They think rich taxpayers should pay for everything."

"...understand that things like Sesame Street can survive in the private market."

Because BOTH are supported by "The Rich". One indirectly thru taxes and one directly through charitible donations. That "The Rich" are willing to give away free money without it being taken from them by government coercion should be a good thing and encouraged. Why is this such a hard concept for them to understand?

When the government coerces "The Rich" by taxing them, they eventually run out of "The Rich" people. See: Venezuela.

Of course, preaching to the choir is easy.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, You put your finger on it... now follow it through and you'll see what is really motivating them!

What is the difference between the two statements...

Rich people pay the taxes... rich people pay through corporations... but what is the difference?


They want to tell rich people how to spend their money. They don't want rich people getting to make those decisions for them.

tryanmax said...

I haven't followed the budget discussion other than to note that it's been called the "skinny budget." This is a tremendous clue that it's not meant to be taken as a final budget, or even a final proposal. This is something that anyone who seriously follows budget proceedings will immediately pick up on. And anyone who picks up on this will also immediately dismiss any hyperbolic rantings that claim the budget is heartless and cruel. Trump has framed it so that the serious people will be able to easily recognize one another and dismiss the rest. The adults can now discuss things while the children scream in the yard.

A skinny budget is a great rhetorical move. Republicans have proposed deep cuts as a starting point before, but without putting it behind a silly name. A serious-sounding proposal gets taken seriously, while a light-sounding proposal is entertained. Notice no one is falling all over themselves to assure the public that they do, in fact, love the arts and grandma's cookies and all good things and, in fact, we're gonna prove it by increasing the budget for government-funded rainbows as a show of good faith. Instead, the good-faith is marked at the outset by marking the "skinny" budget as not serious.

Also, this is a good first year move. By pushing for deep cuts initially, it creates lots of room to back off while saving space for actual cuts. If the cuts don't work out (defined however) in the first year, then upward adjustments can be made in the second. But if they do work out (the obvious hope) maybe an even "skinnier" budget can be proposed next year. Either way, the skinny budget sets a new negotiating bar, so it's a win-win for the pro-cuts side.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Let me add something else to that. My whole life, the Congress has basically ignored the budgets the presidents present. I still recall the Democrats calling Reagan's budgets "DOA." They offer ideas, that's about it.

This strikes me as Trump telling Congress that he's not stepping on their toes. "Here are my ideas, now go do what you do and I'll sign it." I think it's a way to show that Trump and Ryan really are working together well.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, Bev, it makes sense. Power is ultimately the ability to make choices. The classical liberal position is that all should be alike in power, having the ability to make their own decisions and only making decisions for others when others have voluntarily granted that authority, either by agreement, election, employment or some other social arrangement.

Of course, even in that ideal situation, some choices have a cascade effect. Money flows toward choices that many people agree upon. For example, more people buy cherry pop-tarts than kale pop-tarts, so more cherry pop-tarts get made cheaper while kale pop-tarts are rare and costlier. This, in turn, pushes more people toward cherry pop-tarts and away from kale-pop tarts, exacerbating the matter.

What's a kale pop-tart lover to do? One option is to use government to force cherry pop-tart buyers and producers to subsidize the kale pop-tarts under the guise that it is "unfair" that a kale pop-tart should cost more than a cherry pop-tart, which is what kale-munching leftists tend to do.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, that's a good point, too. I remember DOA budgets somewhat, but I think they were reusing the term later? I just can't imagine I'd remember budget talks at the age I would've been when Reagan was president.

So, Trump is putting the negotiation in Congress' hands, but he's giving them a starting point that is probably well beyond what they would've come up with on their own.

One more thought that your comment prompted: I can't say whether Trump will issue a skinny budget every year, but if he does, I would expect it to take hold as a tradition after he leaves, at least among GOP executives.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I still recall a photo op in which Tip O'Neil held up Reagan's budget (don't know the year) and declared: "D.O.A."

It wouldn't surprise me if it becomes a tradition. It makes sense. The President suggests an outline and Congress does their own thing with a nod to the outline.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Agreed. I think you also have to consider the busy-body aspect. Some people just like telling other people how to live their lives. And what better way to do it than putting yourself in a position to decide how other people's money gets spent?

This is the motive behind banning sugars and video games and books with bad words, imposing bike lanes and lower speed limits and other annoyance regulations.

BevfromNYC said...

Man, the media/WH/whatever is trying really, really hard to have a Friday afternoon Media Drop for the Pundit shows this weekend! Who will win? Failed Healthcare bill or Obama et al. "wiretap" revelation! Stay tuned!

Tennessee Jed said...

I like your analogy in your comments with Bev. That is exactly what it is about. Liberals want to be in control of how the money is spent.

As far as the arts are concerned, I do understand this notion that quality art is not always commercial. It is almost a cliche to characterize the starving artist whose body of work skyrockets after their death. I do think that the arts are worthwhile, but should be funded locally rather than nationally, and in a couple of different ways. One of the suburban communities funded summertime concerts featuring high quality barbershop quartets. The other way to support the arts, in my opinion, is to make scholarships available to student artists (be it painting, acting, musicians, dancers) who have shown great promise to attend advanced schools such as Curtis or Berklee. But, I see no need for the endowment as it stands, and certainly no need for support of NPR or PBS.

Tennessee Jed said...

I should point out my example of the local township sponsoring concerts did not "just" feature barbershop quartets. I used it as an example of a municipality that chose to use funds to promote various types of low cost/high quality acts for the enjoyment of the residents.

BevfromNYC said...

TennJ - I am from a suburb of Dallas that has 2 Symphony orchestras, multiple groups of various & sundry musical genres, dance companies, community & "professional" theatres, and an art gallery or two. And they choose as a town to support these.

Btw, they are only about 5/10 miles from Dallas & Ft. Worth that have all of the same & more. Plus every suburb between within a 25 mi radius who also have the same.

So it's not there is dirth of access to art/music/theatre/dance. Some are funded by state & local govt who help provide the facitlities, but mostly by generous donors.

Tennessee Jed said...

exactly, Bev - I was trying to say that to the extent government does subsidize the arts, I am more in favor of local communities doing so rather than feds.

AndrewPrice said...

So the Republicans failed to repeal Obamacare and the political world is calling it an epic failure and a catastrophe and a disaster.

It's funny that outside of the political world, this is called a "setback" and you just change your plan and try again in some different manner.

What does that say about our political culture?

AndrewPrice said...

Let me add, Trump made an excellent point: The Democrats own Obamacare.

He's right. The best thing that could have happened to them is the GOP replaced it and took the blame for it. Now the GOP looks like they failed, but the Democrats continue to be responsible for it. And it is a disaster.

Anthony said...

Trump is governing like he ran his campaign, half assed, poorly thought out and with lots of blame shifting.

The Democrats owned Obamacare (which passed without a single Republican vote) before the Republicans' failure to kill it.

The failure is surprising because the president enjoys a legislative majority (they don't need the Democrats to pass anything). Clearly that doesn't mean much. A determined minority can buck the party leadership and control what does and doesn't get passed. That can translate into all sorts of craziness down the line.

On a related note, Paul Ryan has gone from admired rebel to scorned leader (as I often say, if you want to fall out of favor with the conservative movement, obtain a position of responsibility :) ) and various reports indicate Trump is working on replacing him. As per his usual, Trump has and will continue to deny such reports until the replacement happens.

Trump won't take too much damage from this. Like prior wave presidents Obama and Bush his shortcomings are apparent even this early in, but like Obama and push, his personal popularity won't take much of a hit this early in the game.

Anthony said...

On the lighter side of the news Lebouf's anti-Trump project recently moved to London, where it was promptly taken down. Maybe it will move to North Korea next?

The Foundation for Art and Creative Technology in Liverpool has taken down Shia LaBeouf’s anti-Donald Trump “He Will Not Divide Us” art project just one day after its debut, marking the fourth such shutdown of the actor’s work since January.

Anthony said...

On the upside, Trump's SC nominee has failed to be tripped up in hearings. That doesn't mean Democrats will support him (heck, they are even talking of filibustering him) but not handing the opposition damaging ammo is always a good move.

Shortly before Schumer’s announcement, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, who faces re-election next year in a state Trump won, also announced his opposition. Casey said he had “serious concerns about Judge Gorsuch’s rigid and restrictive judicial philosophy, manifest in a number of opinions he has written on the 10th Circuit.”
Democratic Sens. Tom Carper of Delaware and Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, also said they would vote against Trump’s nominee, among at least 11 senators who say they will oppose Gorsuch in the face of pressure from liberals to resist all things Trump, including his nominees.

Anthony said...

Completely unrelated to anything, but funny and a little sad.

Imagine spending a year in the wilderness for a reality TV show — and then finding out it was canceled.
Unfortunately, that's the sad truth for the contestants on Eden, which sent 23 people into the Scottish wilderness for a year. They returned to a life of civilization on Thursday, only to discover that just four episodes of the show aired after its cancellation last August.
Scotland's Press and Journal explains that the series was "intended as a combination of reality TV and sociology experiment." The idea was for the contestants to create their own society.
Not all 23 of them lasted the full year; 13 people quit the show, with "midges," a.k.a. gross, tiny flies, taking part of the blame, the Press and Journal notes. (The outlet also reports that "sexual jealousy" and hunger also played a part in the 13 contestants' departure.)

Darski Cutler said...

Just a reminder that Earth hour happens tonight - remember to turn ON all your lights.

AndrewPrice said...

Cynical "news" article of the week award goes to Cheyenne Roundtree of the Daily Mail, for attacking Trump for saying that he never said he would "repeal Obamacare within 64 days."

According to Cheyenne, Trump said 68 times that he would repeal it and twice he said he would do so "immediately". So clearly, Trump is lying.

Cheyenne is either such an idiot that he/she/(sh)it should immediately be locked up for its own protection or it is such a cynical ass that it should not be allowed ever to put pen to paper again.

tryanmax said...

I just have to lodge that I still can't get behind the notion that anyone half-asses their way into the White House. Maybe they don't put the effort into areas that one might think they should go, but that only means one doesn't approve of the efforts that actually yield results.

Of course, that's a different question to whether Trump is half-assing things now. But if the premise is that he's half-assing now like he half-assed then, I've already turned down that one.

AndrewPrice said...

OMFUCKINGGOD! United Airlines tried to keep a ten year old girl off a flight for wearing spandex leggings!! HOW DARE THEY!!

Fortunately, busybody Shannon "the Twat" Watts stepped in and screamed sexism and demanded to know why United would treat girls differently than boys. She also wanted to know why United would DARE to sexualize young girls by banning them from wearing clothing that shows their genitalia!!

Good for you Twatts. Good for you. Without heroes like you, this country might make sense!

When will people learn?! When?!

(As an aside, they were traveling as employee standbys, and a dress code applies to them, but Watts was not deterred. She's certain that boys would not have been subject to such scrutiny and therefore United must be burned to the ground into ash.)

AndrewPrice said...

Oh, and since Shannon has no sense of perspective, I shall follow and I shall wish her either a very bad paper cut or that she die alone and afraid in a Puerto Rican whorehouse with no idea how she got there. Six of once... half dozen of the other.

Anthony said...

OT but I just saw Sing at the insistence of my youngest daughter (who saw it in theaters on a play date). I was expecting very little from an animated story based on the dead fad that was American Idol but I came away hugely impressed.

The story wasn't about competition between singers, but the struggle of the theater owner to keep it open and of the various contestants to overcome the personal stuff holding them back.

That being said the characters and their performances are really fun to watch and the mom builds a wonderful rube Goldberg contraption to manage her family in the morning.

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