But Trump’s freshly minted budget director, former South Carolina congressman Mick Mulvaney, is framing the proposed cut as an act of fiscal responsibility.
"Can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs?" he asked Thursday during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. "The answer was no. We can ask them to pay for defense and we will, but we can't ask them to continue to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting."
Mulvaney’s argument was undermined not only by the miniscule expense to coal miners and single moms, but also by a public opinion survey commissioned by PBS in January, clearly in anticipation of Trump’s budget ploy.
The telephone survey of 1,001 registered voters, conducted jointly by Republican and Democratic polling firms and released Thursday as Trump’s budget landed, showed 73 percent opposing federal cuts for public television; meanwhile, 83 percent, including 70 percent of those who voted for Trump, wanted Congress to find budget savings elsewhere.
Variety - The managers of PBS-affiliated stations will do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to lobbying Congress against the defunding plan, because it is the stations that receive CPB funding. PBS has 179 licensed affiliate entities that run about 350 stations.
On average, those stations rely on CPB funding for about 15% of their budgets. Some stations are as low as 7%-9%, but among stations in rural areas, the percentage climbs as high as 30% to 50%, [CPB chief Paula] Kerger said.
WCTE-TV in Cookeville, Tennessee, is a prime example, Kerger said. Station manager Becky Magura told Kerger that the station would shut down if it loses CPB funding, which amounts to about half of its operating budget. WCTE is the only TV station that directly serves the town and surrounding areas in Putnam County, population 73,245 as of 2013. Putnam County voted for Donald Trump in the presidential election by a 45% margin.
“For stations like WCTE a cut like this would truly be an existential crisis,” Kerger said.
In discussing the rationale for zero-ing out the CPB, Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney questioned why the government should require taxpayers to support the CPB. Mulvaney cited coal miners in West Virginia, steelworkers in Ohio and mothers in Detroit as examples.
“We’ve heard from coal miners in West Virginia and a lot of moms in Detroit today,” Kerger said. Charleston-based West Virginia Public Broadcasting is another group that would be hit hard by loss of CPB funds, she added.