by Pam Zubeck
U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn has it in for public broadcasting. He's already introduced legislation to whack its funding. Now he wants the government to audit how it uses the federal money he doesn't want it to get anymore.
Not that public broadcasting is eating up a whopping portion of the federal budget. It wants $136 million for the 2013 fiscal year - a pittance in the grand scheme of things. Lamborn sets the national debt at $13.8 trillion.
In any event, Lamborn, in his third term representing the heavily Republican 5th Congressional District that includes Colorado Springs, has asked Acting Comptroller General of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Mr. Gene Dodaro, for "a thorough audit of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and National Public Radio (NPR) so lawmakers can clearly identify NPR's use of federal dollars," he says in a press release.
“In the era of trillion dollar annual deficits, we obviously must cut our federal spending. We no longer have the luxury of funding non-essential services, if we ever did. As we move forward with tough spending cuts, it is critical that we have the most accurate picture of government spending to ensure the cuts are made responsibly.”
In his letter, Lamborn calls public broadcasting's funding streams "complicated" and that efforts to get more information have had "limited success."
In regard to NPR specifically, Lamborn wants to know the source and amount of federal funds for the operation and its local affiliate stations and how the money flows to those stations, the commercial relationship between NPR and its affiliates and how the money is used.
Lamborn's bill, HR 6417, would prohibit federal dollars from going to NPR. His HR 5538 would eliminate federal funding for NPR’s parent organization, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Lamborn's press release says NPR receives tax money through grants from CPB, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Education, and the National Endowment for the Arts. It also gets money indirectly through federal grants to local public radio stations. He's concerned about this because while NPR says less than 2 percent of its annual budget comes from the federal government, when licensing fees from federally-funded local stations are included, it's an estimated 20 percent.
Here's Lamborn's graphic demonstrating the above:
We have just one word for Lamborn: earmarks. Although now he's jumped on the bandwagon to curtail them, Lamborn was the only Republican candidate in Colorado in the last election who, when asked, refused to sign a pledge to oppose them promulgated by Americans for Prosperity, an organization advanced by one of his opponents in 2006 and 2008, Jeff Crank.
The conservative Heritage Foundation reports that earmarks were estimated at 11,914 in 2009 totaling over over $20 billion. Someone should bird-dog that problem.