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Report: Trump Plans to Eliminate National Endowment for the Arts

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President-elect Donald Trump and his incoming administration are planning to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of a broader effort to substantially slash government spending, according to a report.

The Hill reports that the plans to slash the arts endowments are part of a 10-year plan that would see government spending reduced by $10.5 trillion.

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Other federal agencies that would see substantial reductions in spending include the Departments of Commerce, Energy, Transportation, State and Justice. According to the Hill, the plan includes privatizing the Corporation of Public Broadcasting.

The spending cuts are reportedly being discussed at the White House by two Trump transition team members, Russ Vought and John Gray.

The National Endowment for the Arts provides federal grants to artists and establishments like museums and theaters. The 14-member agency is currently headed by artist Jane Chu, and as of 2015 had an annual budget of $150 million.

The endowment was established in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, but has become a controversial agency over time, as critics contend that taxpayers should not have to fund art they consider to be against their values, or obscene.

Previous administrations have proposed cutting federal funding of the NEA. According to a book by former NEA chairman Livingston Biddle, President Ronald Reagan considered eliminating the agency altogether upon taking office in 1981, but reconsidered when he realized the complexities involved in doing so. Reagan reportedly instead slashed the agency’s budget.

In the mid-90s, Republicans, led by then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, also attempted to eliminate the agencies, with little success.

In 2011, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) proposed a plan to eliminate the Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, as well as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the Spending Reduction Act of 2011 predicted that eliminating all three agencies, among other cuts, would save the federal government $2.5 trillion over 10 years.

As recently as December, Trump was reportedly considering veteran actor Sylvester Stallone to head the National Endowment for the Arts. According to the Daily Mail, the job was not formally offered to Stallone, though the actor was said to be “positively disposed to the idea.”

 

Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum


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