The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump’s military spending bump could fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for the next 121 years

President Trump's proposed budget calls for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Small and rural programs would be hit hardest. (Video: Erin Patrick O'Connor/The Washington Post)
Placeholder while article actions load

In search of massive spending cuts to counterbalance a $54 billion increase in defense spending, President Trump’s budget blueprint proposes the outright elimination of at least 19 federal agencies. Agencies on the chopping block include some household names, such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as more obscure offices like the Northern Border Regional Commission and the Chemical Safety Board.

Trump writes that the blueprint “emphasizes national security and public safety” in an accompanying memo. But “to keep Americans safe, we have made the tough choices that have been put off for too long.” The federal government, he writes, must “do more with less.” He challenges federal agencies to “achieve greater efficiency and to eliminate wasteful spending in carrying out their honorable service to the American people.”

The agencies Trump proposes eliminating completely represent a small fraction of the $54 billion in savings he needs to offset defense increases. For instance, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting gets about $485 million per year, most of which is distributed to local television and radio stations. With $54 billion, you could fund the CPB at its 2016 level for the next 121 years.

If “All Things Considered” is not your thing, $54 billion would fund the Legal Services Corporation for 140 years. The corporation, which helps low-income Americans get legal assistance, distributes grants that support over 9,000 full-time legal staff around the country. Under Trump’s budget, federal funding for that program will be eliminated.

Trump also wants to eliminate federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts AND the National Endowment for the Humanities to fund the defense spending hike. Conversely, he could take that money and fund both agencies — at their 2016 levels — for the next 183 years.

There are lots of teeny, tiny agencies on the chopping block too. One of them is the United States Institute of Peace, a federal think tank working in the realm of international conflict resolution. On its website, the Institute notes that its 300 employees work at “the Institute’s headquarters in Washington, which faces the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and symbolizes our nation’s commitment to peace.”

Instead of spending $54 billion on the military, Trump could continue to fund that commitment to peace for 1,543 years. Instead, he’s eliminating the entirety of the Institute’s $35 million annual budget.

Or what about the Chemical Safety Board? For $11 million a year, the CSB investigates chemical accidents at federal facilities and issues safety recommendations. $54 billion would fund the Board for 4,909 years. But in Trump’s budget, the agency faces losing all federal funding.

The smallest office on the chopping block is the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, whose 21 employees coordinate the federal response to homelessness for the low, low sum of about $4 million a year. (Incidentally that's just a little bit more than the price to taxpayers of a single Trump trip to Mar-a-Lago. He’s spent five weekends there so far this year.)

About $54 billion would fund the Council’s operations for 13,500 years. Instead, under the Trump budget, it’s set to be funded for exactly zero.

A presidential budget, of course, is far from a done deal. It’s more of a political document, a picture of where an administration’s priorities lie. And from the cuts above it's pretty clear what the Trump White House’s priorities are.

The list of agencies facing elimination is below:

Agency FY 2016 budget (millions)
United States Interagency Council on Homelessness 4
Northern Border Regional Commission 8
Chemical Safety Board 11
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars 11
Denali Commission 20
Inter-American Foundation 22
Delta Regional Authority 25
African Development Foundation 30
United States Institute of Peace 35
U.S. Trade and Development agency 60
Overseas Private Investment Corporation 83
Appalachian Regional Commission 146
National Endowment for the Arts 148
National Endowment for the Humanities 148
Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation 175
Institute for Museum and Library Services 230
Legal Services Corporation 385
Corporation for Public Broadcasting 445
Corporation for National & Community Service (AmeriCorps) 1,095

Icons by Rudolf Horaczek, Nick Abrams, Cornelius Danger, Rafa and Rohith MS, The Noun Project