An unlikely person has spoken out against Donald Trump’s proposed budget that would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts: former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
Huckabee wrote a column in the Washington Post that urges Trump to “hold back from one tiny area of the budget whose elimination would cost far more than it would save,” and reminded the president that Hollywood elite are not the people who benefit from the program.
Last week, Trump made good on a long-time conservative goal in his first proposed budget, targeting the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the NEA for complete elimination.
“I do care greatly about the real recipients of endowment funds: the kids in poverty for whom NEA programs may be their only chance to learn to play an instrument, test-drive their God-given creativity and develop a passion for those things that civilize and humanize us all. They’re the reason we should stop and recognize that this line item accounting for just 0.004 percent of the federal budget is not what’s breaking the bank,” Huckabee wrote.
Huckabee notes, “Funding for the National Endowment for the Arts might seem expendable — especially given how often celebrity artists insult and even threaten the president,” but cautions that “hateful high-dollar Hollywood and music-industry stars don’t receive anything from the NEA.”
He continued: “Not because of their insufferable political whining, but because they get rich selling their talents to the highest bidder in the private sector. I have zero interest in spending a dime of tax money to prop up those who hate the president the tens of millions who elected him.”
The proposed budget would zero out the $445 million budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a relatively small source of funding for programming and broadcast operations on public TV stations and NPR radio stations nationwide, per the Washington Post.
It would also eliminate the budgets for both national endowments, which stood at $148 million each in 2016, as well as $230 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which supports libraries and museums. Additional cuts would affect two tourist mainstays in Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art.
Combined, the four arts organizations account for less than 0.02 percent of the U.S. government’s $3.9 trillion budget.
“Participation in the arts leads to higher grade-point averages and SAT scores, as well as improvements in math skills and spatial reasoning,” Huckabee wrote. “I’m for cutting waste and killing worthless programs. I’m not for cutting and killing the hope and help that come from creativity.”