TOPIC A What's lost in the House budget cuts

What's lost in the House budget cuts

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Organizations and people tell The Post what effect the House budget cuts would have. Below, responses from Ken Burns; James L. Jones; Thomas Mason and Persis Drell; Cecile Richards; Lavinia Limon; Ted Hesburgh; Bill Bradley, Tom Ridge and David Walker; Thomas Donnelly; Frank Newport; and Liz Blake.


Documentary filmmaker

The debate over government spending, while necessary, has come to threaten the cultural, educational and informational influences that help equip us for enlightened citizenship. Difficult decisions will have to be made - but not on the back of an infinitesimally small fraction of the deficit that the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities and public broadcasting represent.

With a minimum of funding, PBS manages to produce essential (commercial-free) children's programming and supplements the schedules of hundreds of other channels. It contributes to cradle-to-grave continuing education services that are particularly appreciated in rural states - belying the canard that this is programming for the rich and bicoastal. It also gave William F. Buckley a home for 30 years.

Polls consistently show that huge majorities of all Americans support public broadcasting. In an age when nearly everyone selects their media on the basis of their political views, it's refreshing to have an in-depth option that periodically upsets the powers that be in both parties.

Many say that what can't survive in the marketplace doesn't deserve to survive. Not one of my documentaries, produced solely for PBS over the past 30 years, could have been made anywhere but on public broadcasting.

In the late 1980s, I told President Ronald Reagan I was working on a history of the Civil War. His eyes twinkled as he recalled watching, as a young boy, parades of aging Union veterans marching down the main street of Dixon, Ill., on the Fourth of July. Then he spoke to me about the responsibility he saw for a private sector/governmental partnership between public broadcasting and the arts and humanities. Nearly a third of my budget for that series came from a corporation, a third from private foundations, and a third from the National Endowment for the Humanities. "Good work," he said.

Our funding model remains essentially the same. But proposals to defund the CPB and the Endowments will kill some of the best stuff on the tube and radio.


Senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center; national security adviser to President Obama from 2009 to 2010

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