Yesterday Rep. Woolsey tweeted:
Instead of encouraging these NEH grants, our representative should be doing the responsible thing and working to end the funding for this (and, of course, other) federal endowment programs. But Lynn Woolsey doesn’t think this way.
As reported by the National Coalition for History (NCH), in 2010, the NEH budget was $167.5 million. The amount proposed by the Obama administration for 2012 has been reduced to $146.2 million, a step in the right direction (unlike most of the rest of that $3.7 TRILLION budget). However, the question really is: given our financial straits, should any money at all be allocated to the NEH in 2012 or the foreseeable future?
What does the NEH fund? Here is the NEH’s list of its projects. Those projects include exhibitions, television and radio programs (such as The Adams Chronicles, The World of Islam, and The American Novel), summer seminars for teachers, and a newspaper content preservation program. Are these worthwhile endeavors? Yes. Cultural events and presentations are a vital part of any thriving society. And hopefully these programs will be funded by other than government monies in the future.
However, even in times in which our governments (at all levels) had not so burdened themselves (and US, the citizens) with tremendous debt, the wisdom of supporting such cultural projects with federal (or state) finances is questionable. The federal government has its own duties to undertake — the U.S. Constitution makes that plain. It should refrain from broadening its reach into other areas that are not within its original purview. The smaller the responsibility range of any sector of government, the smaller the financing required. When, as we know, money doesn’t have to be funneled into the maw of the feds, it can actually be used elsewhere and by others than federal officials.
We don’t need (and, ideally, don’t want) the federal government to fund everything under the sun. Lynn Woolsey, of course, does want that, but more and more Americans are realizing that even with a balanced budget, the federal government should play a limited — not omnipotent — role in our lives. And assuredly, when the federal annual budgets are so sharply in deficit and we have accumulated such an untenable total debt ($15 TRILLION), the Congress and the administration should see the need to completely eliminate budget allocations for agencies such as the NEH. And I’m not picking on the NEH. It is simply an example. Our federal government houses more than 1000 departments and agencies — far too many. In order to regain control over our budget, Washington officials will have to do more than cut $60 billion from an annual budget (as the majority in the House is trying — against opposition by some of its own members, such as Rep. Woolsey, and the presumed opposition of the Senate and the president.) Washington literally needs to cut TRILLIONS out of the proposed 2012 budget ($3.7 TRILLION). To do that requires the steely will to cut the NEH and other agencies completely. It has to be done! Lynn Woolsey will never admit that. But if our republic is to survive, it must be done.