Government-funded art could get shut down



William Rush and His Model
  • William Rush and His Model

The Denver Post's article today about the threatened federal government shutdown includes this nice touch of irony:

Rep. Doug Lamborn's staffers called some families who planned to vacation in Washington next week and warned them that Smithsonian museums and the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center might be closed.

The Smithsonian, as Lamborn's staff ought to be aware, relies on an annual $761 million in federal subsidy. This is way, way, way more than the $5 million dollars in annual direct funding that Lamborn's recent legislative success aims to cut from National Public Radio.

So there certainly is irony here: Lamborn's office calling constituents to warn them that a cherished, publicly supported, arts and cultural institution might be shut down thanks to the Republicans' unyielding fight in Congress to cut "entitlements."

It's made even more ironic when you re-read Lamborn's 2007 argument for cutting support to the National Endowment of the Arts (another favorite Republican target):

In light of our current budget shortfall, we must exercise financial restraint. The federal government must demonstrate a willingness to cut costs and economize just as any American family or business would do.

My opposition to the NEA cannot be perceived as opposition to the arts. True art can and should survive without federal funding. Despite the fact that the NEA was not established until 1965, many talented artists managed to bless us with their artistic contributions. At a time when government spending is at record levels, we must find ways to reduce spending.

Artists are free to express themselves as they choose, but the American taxpayer does not need to pay for it. Freedom of speech does not guarantee government funding. Private endowment not only provides artists with more creative freedom, but it also ensures that taxpayers are not forced to fund projects that they may find objectionable. Those who support the arts should do so with their own money...

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