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June 30, 2005

Starving the Beast

David Broder has a surprisingly good column on the reversed PBS cuts, arguing that the zeal to save Big Bird might have hurt the kids he teaches. The $100 million in restored cuts had to come from elsewhere, and so they did:

None of this suggests that the House was wrong to rescue Big Bird and his friends in public broadcasting. But it is a fact, as both Regula and Obey pointed out, that the broadcast stations and their audiences have far more influence on Congress than most low-income Americans possess. As Obey put it, "At least the people who pay attention to public broadcasting do have a megaphone of sorts, and they can get their message known."

Obey was also on sound ground in pointing out that "the press has focused 90 percent of its attention on public broadcasting," playing down or ignoring the trade-offs that were forced in other programs by the strictures of the budget plan pushed by President Bush and approved by party-line Republican majorities in Congress.
...
It's one more instance of the prevailing political culture -- controlled by a budgetary and tax system that puts the lowest value on the needs of those who are most vulnerable.

Just goes to show how rough financial meltdown is on Democratic priorities. Little seemed more obviously worthwhile than repelling a politically-motivated attack on PBS and NPR. Of course, if it had been presented in the context of health, labor, and education cuts, it would have been a harder choice. But this is their strategy: starve the beast. It's generally thought of as a way to halt the growth of government, but it's more than that. When a body starves, it tries to eat itself. At the beginning, the fat goes, but after a while, lean muscle mass and a variety of other vital substances get burned as well. And that's where we are now.

June 30, 2005 in Economics, Policy | Permalink

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"It's generally thought of as a way to halt the growth of government, but it's more than that."

It is "generally thought of" that way, because generations of liberals and democrats have been impotent fools on television and in the papers.

The Republicans since Reagan have been about redistributing income from the poor and middle class to the very, very rich. The "size of government" has been one of their cover stories, and every time some fool on the left repeats it, they win a little bit more. Republican economic policy is almost always inherently unpopular policy, because they serve the material interests of a small minority. They hold on to power by making symbolic gestures in social policy and lie about the direction and purpose of their economic policies. Democrats have to call the bastards on their lies; Democrats have to have a simple explanation of what Republicans are all about, a simple explanation, which reveals the truth behind "small government" rhetoric, instead of moronically repeating it.

Posted by: Bruce Wilder | Jun 30, 2005 6:22:18 PM

Much more, of course, is at work than big or small government. Clinton-Gore actually reduced the size of government in real terms, not just percentages, and balanced the budget as well.

As Bruce said, this is about priorities. He's also correct about the miserable job the Dems have done on educating the public. I don't see signs of this improving dramatically, although Reid sure tries hard. But the message isn't getting through based on Dem efforts. We need to make the Dems more than a collection of interest groups, but a FDR-like working coalition that is based on working and middle class folks - again.

Who will speak for the Dems like FDR did against the entrenched power of the corporations and wealthy elite? I'm ready for some reincarnation, baby.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jun 30, 2005 7:09:50 PM

Why would anyone accept the idea that offering money to one government program means funds from a different one (especially that CPB funding somehow must dip into funds reserved for social programs).

$1.4 trillion in tax cuts for rich people. Remember it, and repeal it.

Posted by: abjectfunk | Jul 1, 2005 11:57:28 AM

With the debt and deficit at record highs the next president be he/she a republican or democrat will be forced to starve the beast in almost unimaginable ways because the financial reckoning cannot be held off much longer unless we want to see US Bonds fall into the junk bonds category.

Posted by: carsick | Jul 1, 2005 11:57:41 AM

I have never understood why or how David Broder ever got the reputation of being a well thought of Washington liberal columnist. His mild soporific columns are so boring that I am never tempted to go much beyond the first paragraph. This current revelation of Broder about how the restoration of $100 million to the PBS budget will necessitate the reduction of funds for other worthy programs is a non-starter as usual. Compared to say the cost of the Iraq quagmire this not even worth mentioning.

Posted by: Ralph | Jul 2, 2005 4:26:16 PM

I have never understood why or how David Broder ever got the reputation of being a well thought of Washington liberal columnist. His mild soporific columns are so boring that I am never tempted to go much beyond the first paragraph. This current revelation of Broder's about how the restoration of $100 million to the PBS budget will necessitate the reduction of funds for other worthy programs is a non-starter as usual. Compared to say the cost of the Iraq quagmire this not even worth mentioning.

Posted by: Ralph | Jul 2, 2005 4:27:29 PM

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Posted by: peter.w | Sep 16, 2007 9:00:03 PM

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