The struggle over continuing public funds for National Public Radio has become a microcosm of the overall battle for fiscal sanity and limited government. The NPR dustup has it all. It’s a scale model of our entire dying super-government.
NPR’s defenders have been proudly boasting that they don’t need public subsidies anyway… even as they fight like wildcats to keep them. We can’t even get Democrats to agree on defunding an organization that loudly announces it doesn’t need taxpayer money.
We’ve seen heavy deployment of the strange new notion that we can’t cut funding for any minor government program because it’s such a small amount of money. Suddenly liberals are deeply concerned about Congress wasting its time trying to save puny millions, measured against a trillion-dollar deficit. “We’re talking about pennies on the budget, so this isn’t really a cost-saving move,” whined Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC.
Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) babbled incoherently that Colorado Republican Doug Lamborn’s bill to defund NPR “has no effect whatsoever on the deficit, and saves no money, not a dime.” Actually, Lamborn’s bill cuts about $60 million in taxpayer funding, which is equal to 600 million dimes, or six billion pennies for Ms. Mitchell’s benefit.
Of course, NPR reflects the strange biology of Big Government, which wears its vital organs on the outside to protect its fat. Snipping away 5% of public radio’s income stream is equivalent to tossing America’s cultural treasures beneath the treads of Moammar Qaddafi’s tanks. In the same vein, reducing taxpayer subsidies to PBS will seal Oscar the Grouch inside his trash can forever, and reducing a single dollar of the bloated Obama budget will put cops and firemen out of work.
The NPR debate has also brought the usual cast of liberal boogeymen out of the closet. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) portrayed the Lamborn bill as a sop to the “extremist Tea Party caucus.” Memo to Rep. Markey: we want a lot more than $60 million torn out of your grasping fingers. We’re not even happy with $60 billion.
Of course, intellectually bankrupt Democrats tried waving the Fox News voodoo doll at liberal reporters and making “ooga-booga” noises. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) tried introducing an amendment to block the federal government from buying ads on Fox News, as if there is some kind of logical equivalence between purchasing air time on a popular private network and pumping taxpayer subsidies into a government-run radio network. “Fair and balanced” was chanted by House Democrats as if it were some kind of exorcism ritual. Note to Democrats: private companies are not made unhappy when people loudly recite their advertising slogans.
There’s even a George Soros connection, to illustrate the pervasive hypocrisy of liberals who celebrate their favorite fatcats as the soul of impartial public service, while declaring anyone who has ever accepted a single dollar from the Koch Brothers to be hopelessly corrupted by the power of Mordor. Matthew Boyle has a story at the Daily Caller today about new undercover audio from conservative provocateur James O’Keefe, which suggests Soros might have pumped a lot more into NPR than the $1.8 million donated on the record last October. It’s fun to watch Soros toadies explain why vastly smaller sums of Koch Brothers money represent pure, concentrated evil.
No one knows where a lot of NPR’s money comes from, since it arrives in the form of the anonymous donations famously upsold to O’Keefe’s cameramen, when they posed as Muslim Brotherhood operatives. There hasn’t been a serious audit of public radio’s books in almost thirty years. That’s another way in which the NPR controversy represents the larger budget battle swirling around it. The federal government couldn’t pass an audit either. No one knows where all the money goes. It will be amazing to watch how much money taxpayers can save, simply by declaring that state of affairs is no longer acceptable. Maybe National Private Radio will do a story on it.