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BUDGET BATTLES

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) budget model predicts the U.S. budget will be unsustainable within twenty-six years. In other words, it is impossible for the American economy to continue past 2037.  House Budget Chairman Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said President Barack Obama’s budget strategy is to “do nothing, punt, duck, kick the can down the road” while the debt remains on track to eventually hit 800% of GDP.


Greece recently teetered on the brink economic collapse when its government debt hit 120% of GDP.  Riots in the streets ensued for weeks and Greece was eventually bailed out by the EU.  What will happen when the U.S. debt is at 800% of GDP and there is nobody there to bail out our federal government?  What happens then?  And how can we begin to resolve the problem?


Republicans recently went to battle with Democrats over the 2011 budget they failed to pass by the September 2010 deadline.  The reason why Democrats didn’t want to pass the budget in 2010 is because the dialogue around the election centered on our public debt and government restraint… and Obama’s plan had increased his prior year’s budget by $79 billion, which would keep the U.S. running another $1.65 trillion in deficits.  Any Democrat who would vote for the 2011 budget prior to the 2010 election would be at an even greater risk of losing their seat during the midterms.  As it turned out, Democrats suffered one of the greatest defeats since 1938.

So, the Democrat budget of 2011 became the Democrat-Republican budget.  Republicans passed a non-binding resolution on January 25th that placed the Fiscal Year 2011 funding levels at previous 2008 levels, which put them on record fulfilling their campaign promise to pass $100 billion in deficit reductions by their first year.  This would never be passed in the Senate and never signed by Obama. So, they had their work cut out for them.

After a series of continuing resolutions cut $10 billion from the budget, the final budget needed to be passed before April 8, 2011 or a government shut down would take place causing a furlough of 800,000 government employees.  With just hours remaining before the deadline, a deal was reached averting the shutdown. The deal included $38.5 billion in cuts from what had been budgeted for 2010.

The total budget Obama proposed was $79 billion more than the prior year’s budget… and Republicans were able to avoid that budget and force a budget with $48.5 billion in total cuts.  The budget deal was hailed as a victory for Republicans and provides the much needed momentum going into the 2012 budget.

Democrats felt they had some victories too.  Republicans failed in eliminating a few social programs which included Planned Parenthood, the NEA, the NEH, NPR and PBS.  Just about all Democrats, many Independents and a few Republicans wondered why Republicans targeted these organizations.  After all, they are non-partisan organizations that barely make a dent in the budget, right?

Planned Parenthood, an organization that advocates and assists young women with having abortions, gave political contributions in the amount of $1,062,536 (roughly $99.4%) to Democrat candidates during the last two election cycles.  Its annual budget is $1.04 billion of which approximately $350 million comes from government grants and contracts.  Why is the federal government helping fund abortions?  Why are American tax dollars being funneled through this organization and doled out to Democrats?  And even if the government defunded Planned Parenthood, isn’t it conceivable that this organization could survive either on a $690 million dollar budget or by additional private funds?  It seems to me the only people supporting government funding of Planned Parenthood are the folks on the receiving end of the 99.4% of Planned Parenthood’s political donations.


The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is a federal government agency that supports and funds art projects in the United States.  Being a federal agency, they are not allowed to provide campaign contributions to politicians or advocacy groups.  It has a long and controversial history of funding.  For example, the NEA partially funded Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ, a photography which depicted a plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of urine.  Also funded by the NEA was Robert Mapplethorpe’s The Perfect Moment, which included a series of homoerotic photographs and child pornography.  I’m not sure why people, especially Democrats, feel it’s necessary to for American taxpayers to fund blasphemy, pornography and child exploitation, but they do.


In 2009, The White House teamed up with NEA to “tackle some of the nation’s toughest issues: education; health; energy and the environment; community renewal; and safety and security.”  Communications Director Yosi Sergant directed artists in a conference call to create works of art promoting Obama’s domestic agenda.  Naturally, the White House’s attempt to try and leverage federal dollars to get artists and cultural organizations involved in promoting their ideological agenda is an abuse of taxpayer dollars, so Yosi Sergant was fired.


NEA’s budget is $167.5 million a year and its Chairman is Rocco Landesman was appointed by Obama in 2009.  Rocco has a long history of donating campaign contributions to Democrats and, in fact, gave $6,900 to Obama’s victory fund and Obama for America in 2008.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is also a federal government agency like the NEA, but they support research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities (ie. the languages, literature, law, history, philosophy, religion).  They also receive $167.5 million annually in tax payer dollars.  Although less controversial then the NEA, the NEH is still a federally funded partisan organization.  While the current Chairman, Jim Leach, is a former Republican congressman from Iowa…. He did endorse Obama in 2008.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is a non-profit corporation funded by the federal government to help promote public broadcasting.  Most of the public broadcasting licenses are locally licensed, but the two best known public broadcast networks are Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR).  The budget for CPB is about $445 million a year of federal tax dollars.  Although the chairman of CPB, Patricia Harrison, is a Republican, she has not made any campaign contributions to Republicans in over a decade. Furthermore, her appointment was designed to quell a brewing controversy over the left wing bias of both PBS and NPR.

NPR, which receives well over $90 million, from the CPB directly and indirectly through member stations, is another example of a federally funded tool for Democrats to further empower and enrich themselves.  A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that 61% of NPR’s audience describes itself as “progressive.” In terms of party affiliation, 40% of NPR listeners described themselves as Democrats, while only 14% called themselves Republicans.  This is because the biased socio-political content of these programs attract left wing listeners.  Perhaps if Hannity, Limbaugh and Beck all had shows on NPR, the study would have different results.


Last month NPR came under more political controversy.  James O’Keefe, a political provocateur best known for bringing down ACORN, sent partners “Simon Templar” and Shaughn Adeleye to secretly record their discussion with NPR’s outgoing senior vice president for fundraising, Ronald Schiller. In that discussion, Schiller made disparaging remarks about the Tea Party and right wingers, as well as controversial comments regarding Palestine and funding for NPR.  Schiller immediately resigned, and NPR disavowed Schiller’s comments.

PBS, which receives well over $282 million from CPB, also has its share of controversy and left wing bias.  In 2005, former CPB chairman Kenneth Tomlinson characterized the popular Bill Moyer program, NOW, as “the image of the left-wing bias” on PBS.  Tomlinson commissioned a study of the program which revealed support for his criticisms… that NOW presented topics with a bias which went unchallenged by a balancing point of view on public broadcasting’s Friday evening line-up.  Why were tax dollars being used to promote an unbalanced and biased television program on PBS?

Also in 2005, federal tax dollars were spend on an episode titled “Sugartime!” of the popular children’s animated series, Postcards from Buster.  The cartoon, intended for children ages 6-12, chronicles the travels of an eight year old bunny around North America.  This particular episode, which aired in New York (WNET) and Los Angeles (KCET), showed Buster in Vermont with a pair of animated lesbian bunnies. Rightfully so, parents were upset at the subversive introduction of sexuality to such young children paid for by viewers and non-viewers like you.


So, where does our federal tax dollars for PBS eventually end up?  One shining example is Boston’s PBS station, WGBH.  Headquartered is an opulent $85 million building in Brighton, it includes a 200-seat amphitheater, amazing atrium and other amenities. Four WGBH vice presidents and producers made more than $300,000 and another 10 made more than $200,000 in pay and benefits; 145 of the station’s 950 employees earned more than $100,000; Ex-WGBH president Henry Becton Jr., the station’s existing Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of WGBH Educational Foundation, made $160,873 in total compensation for working just 24 hours a week; And those that run the company, well, they received more than $200,000 in bonuses in 2009.

For the record, Sesame Street, a popular PBS children’s program, made more than $211 million from toy and consumer product sales from 2003-2006.

The bottom line is that the above-mentioned organizations will receive over $1.1 billion this year from federal tax dollars… and approximately $15 billion over the next decade.  These organizations are also controversial and partisan (there are no government funded gun rights groups or pro-life groups that exist).  And the organizations could very well exist in the private market without the help of the federal government.  So why are we funding these programs that we can’t even afford?

The 2012 budget fight has already begun.  Obama has proposed a plan that will add another $1.1 trillion more to the national debt.  He says his plan will reduce the deficits by $1.1 trillion over the next decade.  But then again, this is the same President who said he would cut the deficit by half by the end of his first term… and so far it looks as though he’s on course to triple it.  Under Obama’s plan, federal funding for Planned Parenthood, NEA, NEH, NPR and PBS will continue as strong as ever.


On the Republican side of the isle is Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity plan which cuts government spending by $5.8 trillion over the next decade and limits government spending to below 20% of the economy.  It also substantially changes federal payments under the Medicare and Medicaid programs, eliminate the subsidies to be provided through new insurance exchanges under last year’s major health care legislation, leaves Social Security as it would be under current law, and set paths for all other federal spending (excluding interest) and federal tax revenues at specified growth rates or percentages of gross domestic product (GDP).  Hopefully, it ends for good federal funding of Planned Parenthood, NEA, NEH, NPR and PBS.


Republicans and Democrats go into another budget battle this week.  Which side are you on… prosperity in 2037 or economic collapse in 2037?

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