DeMint and Lamborn: Defund NPR and PBS

Elizabeth Harrington | May 14, 2012 | 12:45pm EDT
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Sen. Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.) (AP Photo)

( – Two conservative lawmakers are teaming up to urge appropriation leaders in the House and Senate to defund the Corporation of Public Broadcasting (CPB), which is asking for $445 million advance for FY 2015.

This week, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) prepared letters for the heads of the appropriation committees, saying defunding the entity “should be one of the easiest decisions to make,” while searching for cuts in a government $15 trillion in debt.

“CPB’s requested appropriation represents no reduction from its prior year appropriation level,” DeMint and Lamborn wrote. “While so many Americans are making sacrifices around the country to make ends meet, CPB appears unwilling to do the same.”

They allege CPB’s budget has “exploded,” increasing by nearly 31 percent over the last decade, and are now calling to defund its taxpayer funding while its FY 2013 appropriations bill is still on the table. The lawmakers note that between 2001 and 2012 CPB’s funding increased from $340 million to $441.1 million.

The CPB is the nonprofit “steward” of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting whose funded programs are distributed through National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

Both members have been long-term advocates for ending the taxpayer funding of public broadcasting. Lamborn previously sought to defund NPR with a bill that passed 228-192 in the House last March, but stalled in the Senate. That same month, DeMint, along with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), introduced a bill that would have defunded CPB.

DeMint and Lamborn argue that not only is funding the CPB no longer necessary because consumers now have thousands of media choices via the Internet, television, and radio, but also because the organization does not need the money.

“According to its most recently available tax filings, Director and President Paula Kerger received $603,403 in reportable compensation in 2010,” they said. They also cited former NPR CEO Vivian Schiller, who received $479,011 in compensation following her resignation after firing commentator  Juan Williams last year.

“Certainly, thriving media entities that can afford to pay their executives such generous salaries should not be asking taxpayers to subsidize them,” DeMint and Lamborn said.

NPR receives only 2 percent of its operating funds from CPB, while only 15 percent of PBS’s revenue comes from federal funding, the lawmakers said.

“As you know, the country is more than $15 trillion in debt, and at the end of this year the government is expected to reach its legal borrowing limit once again,” DeMint and Lamborn wrote. “We simply cannot afford to continue funding all of the programs that we have in the past.”

“We face many hard choices ahead, but defunding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting should be one of the easier decisions to make,” they added.

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