From NPR To Abortion Funding: Fiscal Conservatives Are Fighting Meaningless Battles

So far, the Republican House's effort to cut back Federal spending isn't very impressive.

During the debate this week in the House, Ron Paul took to the floor and point out just how foolish the GOP looks when it engages in hony efforts to cut the budget:

Ron Paul took to the House floor yesterday advocate again for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, one of two votes that took place there yesterday.

As, always, one of Paul’s main arguments for the military leaving Afghanistan is cost.  Yesterday he mocked so-called fiscal conservatives for moving so enthusiastically to defund NPR, a move which might save the government $10 million dollars when we have spent upwards of a trillion in Afghanistan in the last decade.


There’s a serious question of whether [defunding NPR] will even cut one penny, but at least the fiscal conservatives are going to be overwhelmingly in support of slashing NPR, go home and brag about how they’re such great fiscal conservatives!  And the very most they might save is $10 million.  And that’s their claim to fame for slashing the budget.  At the same time they won’t consider for minute cutting a real significant amount of money.

While he often tends to be a bit, well, nutty, Paul is absolutely right here. Even though I favor ending Federal subsidies to public broadcasting, along with the money that goes to organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the truth of the matter is that the amount spent on items like this is a  minuscule part of the Federal budget. Republicans who take on targets like this and then claim to be doing something about Federal spending, while at the same time ignoring big ticket items like defense spending and entitlements and acting to protect programs popular in their own states like ethanol subsidies and farm subsidies, are hypocrites, and they are lying to their constituents.

Attacking something like NPR or federal funding for abortion may be popular with the Republican base, but it does nothing to combat the Budget deficit. If the GOP is serious, we’ll see them move on to real budget cuts soon. But don’t hold your breath.



FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. wr says:

    “If the GOP is serious.” Well, you’ve kind of answered your own question there. I don’t remember a single Republican objecting when Dick Cheney proudly announced that deficits don’t matter. They only care about “fiscal conservatism” when the other team is in power.

  2. Jay Tea says:


    As the old joke goes, you don’t eat a pig like that all at once.


  3. Jay,

    They aren’t eating the pig, they’re putting a dress on it and telling us it’s Miss America

  4. steve says:

    AFAICT, they are only serious about cutting stuff they do not like and that is perceived as politically safe.


  5. anjin-san says:

    > They aren’t eating the pig, they’re putting a dress on it and telling us it’s Miss America

    Well, yea. But Jay, and millions like him bought it. And that took the GOP out of the weeds and back into power, at least somewhat. Mission accomplished.

  6. G.A. Phillips says:

    You got to start somewhere. Plus it it exposes these foul progressive apparatus to the light of day.The more sunlight and the less funding the better.

    If you don’t care about a one sided indoctrinated propaganda or murdered babies that’s on you. I for one applaud putting a end to it. All at once or a little bit at a time.

    It might not dent the budget much but it takes some of the evil stench out of it.

  7. george says:

    There’s no political will in either party to address the two biggest drains on the budget: the military and Medicare. So of course they’re going to play around with nickel and dime stuff – what they (and the Democrats to be fair) are interested in is obtaining the reputation for being fiscally responsible without actually being so.

  8. reid says:

    george: They also want to attack their ideological enemies, like ACORN and Planned Parenthood. They may not save much, but to them and their lunatic base (like GA), it’s a blow against the Evil Liberals. Of course, it’s all stupid and has no basis in reality (again, see GA’s comment), but that’s how they roll.

  9. Aaron B says:

    Just couldn’t mention Paul without slipping an ad-hominem in there? I guess whenever you mention Thomas Jefferson or any of Paul’s ideological role models you call them “nutty”? I would have been slightly less offended if you would have said quixotic or old fashioned, like the big publications like to do.

  10. Jay Tea says:

    reid said: They also want to attack their ideological enemies, like ACORN and Planned Parenthood.

    “Attack?” By saying “we’re not going to give you any more money? Some attack.

    If this was an “attack,” they’d also go after their tax-exempt status. NPR routinely violates the “non-partisan” requirement, so that would be a slam dunk.

    And if they’re so damned dependent on taxpayer largesse, then perhaps they should think twice about doing stuff that pisses off large portions of the electorate. When you take the king’s gold, you play the king’s tune.

    I can’t find the exact quote, but I read something recently vis-a-vis Wisconsin that applies here, too: It’s an odd situation where the people who want to keep their own money are considered morally inferior to those who want to take it from them.


  11. reid says:

    J: Yes, attack. Taking away funding is an attack. Taking away tax-exempt status would be a bigger attack. I’m sure some Republicans are considering that, too. Anything to undermine these organizations that are The Enemy. Ask GA; I’m sure he can fill you in on how evil and liberal they all are. At least in his mind.

  12. Neil Hudelson says:

    This idea that we’ll cut all the tiny miniscule stuff first, then go after medicare, medicaid, SS, and defense spending is ludicrous. It would be like if a doctor told my diabetic aunt that she had to lose a leg, but first they were going to cut off all the toes without using anesthetic, just because they were smaller and hence took less effort.

  13. Neil Hudelson says:

    NPR routinely violates the “non-partisan” requirement, so that would be a slam dunk.

    Evidence please.

  14. reid says:

    By the way, I’m sure we could raise a good chunk of change to help with the deficit if we eliminated the tax exempt status of churches. And how much money is being used for “faith-based initiatives”? I trust the Republicans will be working on those savings next?

  15. reid says:

    Thanks for questioning that point, Neil. I’m not actually an NPR listener, but from what I’ve read, they try to be very unbiased in their reporting.

    And if these organizations “should think twice about doing stuff that pisses off large portions of the electorate” means not offending people like J and GA, then they are on a hopeless mission.

  16. G.A. Phillips says:

    lol, the moon has no effect on how I think, but I did find some muddy foot prints by an open window the other day…..

  17. G.A. Phillips says:

    Oh and abortion is evil and so is helping to turn people into mindless neo Marxist puppets. It is a proven fact of life, and history.

  18. reid says:

    Careful, GA, the moon is going to seem very large today….

  19. Jay Tea says:

    Neil, Google up “How to speak Tea Bag.” There’s a starting point.


  20. TG Chicago says:

    Hell, NPR was biased in their reporting of the recent O’Keefe video — biased in the sense that they allowed O’Keefe’s claims to go unchallenged. It took a blog owned by Glenn Beck to show all the deceit in the editing of the video.

    NPR’s coverage of their own scandal was bad — they can be criticized for that, surely. But you can’t say that it was biased in their favor.

  21. Neil Hudelson says:


    You mean when NPR called the cartoon condescending, insulting, and immature?

  22. Neil Hudelson says:

    And you’ll have to do better than that to term the entire organization “Partisan.” Calling NPR Partisan means that it has a well defined political perspective, and it pursues all news and editorializing from that perspective.

    Again, evidence please.

  23. TG Chicago says:

    I googled “How To Speak Tea Bag”. Apparently it’s a political cartoon on some NPR Opinion site that I had no idea even existed. I didn’t watch it, but I can believe that it was not very nice, as political cartoons often tend to be.

    Contrast that with something that actually got major play on NPR stations as part of their flagship news program:

    Is that such a horrible portrayal of Tea Partiers?

  24. Jay Tea says:

    Yeah, Neil, the cartoon that no one at NPR had any problems with until some non-liberals discovered it after a couple months. A couple of months when no one at NPR saw any problems with it.

    Kind of like no one had any problem with their CEO or head fundraiser until the had their little conversations with Mr. O’Keefe’s colleagues.

    Ethics is how you act when no one’s looking, not how you act once you’re caught.


  25. reid says:

    J, if that’s about all you’ve got on NPR, you must HATE Fox for their partisanship. For that matter, you must hate every news outlet on the planet, since that cartoon was clearly marked “opinion”. Or maybe you just hate NPR and are looking for a way to rationalize it….

  26. Derek says:

    Seriously, how can anyone who gave Republicans the house believe that, given their actions leading up to the elections, that they would really do anything they were promising to do? Elections have consequences, and here are the consequences. Charlatans voting on pure ideology, ignoring the real problems facing America. Funny that we hear nothing from the Tea-Party on the matter. It’s laughable that they hold an emergency hearing on funding NPR, and ignore the TRILLIONS spent and being spent on the war in Afghanistan.


  27. Jay Tea says:

    TG, that’s about as close to balanced as I could expect from NPR. I’d have preferred if they’d included a few more details that counterbalanced the condescension, but not too bad.

    Details such as how it’s getting a lot of people interested in the political process who hadn’t before, how the sites of Tea Party events tend to end up cleaner than they were beforehand (unlike, say, the Wisconsin capitol building, which was thoroughly trashed by the liberals — the Tea Partiers have a sense of responsibility and pick up after themselves), and how it’s by and large a genuine grass roots movement with no defined leadership — by design.

    But yeah, that wasn’t such a bad piece.


  28. Jay Tea says:

    reid, one major difference: Fox doesn’t get hefty government subsidies every year. That’s an entirely different standard.

    If NPR gives up its federal funding, I’ll reduce my complaints accordingly.

    It’s partly their bias I object to; that I’m paying for it is far more significant.

    Which is why I don’t want it shut down, just out of my pocket.


  29. reid says:

    J: You have yet to show “their bias” beyond one cartoon on an opinion page. Not impressed. I’m offended by NPR’s lack of defense of the O’Keefe idiocy as TG mentioned, but I don’t let that color my opinion of the vast amount of very good work that they (probably) do. But then, I’m not trying to get them defunded using any excuse.

  30. Herb says:

    From Neil’s link:

    “And then someone discovered it, was disgusted and launched it into the blogosphere — making it a raucous rallying point for conservatives.

    The conservative tom-tom was extremely impressive.”

    Beat that drum, Jay.

    But, question for ya: were you actually offended by the NPR cartoon? Are we going to need a “draw a teabagger day” to remind us that free speech is valuable and cartoons can’t hurt people?

  31. labman57 says:

    The current agenda of Congressional Republicans has nothing whatsoever to do with balancing the budget/reducing the deficit and everything to do with implementing their political ideology. The GOP sees an opportunity to damage or eliminate programs and organizations that conflict with their political ideology — hence their self-serving attack on labor unions, the EPA, Planned Parenthood, public television and radio, public education, health care reform, etc.

    If House and Senate Republicans truly were concerned about the federal deficit and were taking an even-handed approach, they would strip the fossil fuel industry of its tax breaks and subsidized funding, cut back further on unnecessary defense contractor programs, and eliminate tax-exempt status of all religious organizations.

  32. Herb says:

    “It’s partly their bias I object to; that I’m paying for it is far more significant.”

    You contribute –at most– a few pennies to NPR’s annual budget. How much say do you really think that buys you?

  33. Jay Tea says:

    You contribute –at most– a few pennies to NPR’s annual budget. How much say do you really think that buys you?

    If it’s such a small amount, Herb, then what’s the big deal if it goes away. And as is being amply demonstrated, I’m hardly alone in my sentiments.

    Hell, I LIKE NPR. I listen to Car Talk, Wait! Wait!, Weekend Edition Sunday, and even On The Media when I feel like throwing rocks at my radio. I remember when Liane Hansen had Click and Clack on every Sunday morning for a single caller. I remember when Will Shortz would ask for post card entries for the Puzzle. I’ve even donated a few times. Not ever been a member, but a donor.

    I just don’t particularly feel like funding them any more. And so do a lot of other people.

    Why are we so much worse for wanting to keep our own money than the people who demand a right to take it from us and use it in ways we don’t approve?


  34. MM says:

    And Jay Tea has successfully derailed the thread.

  35. Herb says:

    “Why are we so much worse for wanting to keep our own money than the people who demand a right to take it from us and use it in ways we don’t approve?”

    Seriously, Jay….what are you going to buy with your 3 cents?

    Look, it’s pretty obvious that this whatever this NPR fight is about, it’s not about the money. It’s about “feelings.”

  36. john personna says:

    Jay, if you would have just kept quiet, the cuts would have seemed more sane.

  37. G.A.Phillips says:

    Keep my three cents out of supporting crimes against humanity and neo Marxist press services!
    I have not voted for this type of goverment and never will!

  38. Derek says:

    Anyone who says NPR is biased does.not.listen to it. Period. If anything they are balanced to the point of being irritating, since we’re so used to hearing biased opinions on “news” casts.

    Republicans can’t have this outlet of simple truth and fact as it is diametrically opposed to what they want; an uneducated lower caste of people who can do nothing but what corporations dictate. Why else would they be so hot under the collar about something like NPR or the NEA? It’s the same logic used when slaves were forbidden to read and write, because knowledge means freedom, and that is the antithesis of what Republicans stand for. So an all-out assault on education while they have the power is more important than jobs, the economy, infrastructure, etc.
    I think with the all-out, in your face assault that we see now is proof of that, and they are ramming it through because they realize that are waking up to who they really are. Time is of the essence for them.

  39. john personna says:

    NPR’s Planet Money did not go off on Elizabeth Warren because they were socialist. They did so because they thought banks could be policed by the marketplace. No consumer protection needed.

    It’s been a long time since NPR was pink.

  40. reid says:

    jp: Sorry, JT already found an example to prove that NPR is a biased, liberal outfit. It only takes one. I’m not even sure why we kept arguing after that. Just stupid liberals, I guess.

  41. Jay Tea says:

    Seriously, Jay….what are you going to buy with your 3 cents?

    Well, Herb, me and everyone else who feels the same will do with OUR money whatever the hell WE want. I’m thinking of dropping it in a charity bucket — with a few friends.

    Hey, Herb, here’s an old joke for you:

    Man: Madam, would you have sex with me for a million dollars?

    Woman: Well, perhaps…

    Man: How about for ten dollars?

    Woman! What? Of course not! What do you think I am?

    Man: We’ve established what you are. Now we’re just negotiating over the price.

    So, you have no problems coercing my money for me, as long as it’s only three cents. At what point does your theft become actually immoral to you?

    And no arguing that you’re not trying to take my money from me. We’ve already established that you are; now we’re just negotiating about price.


  42. reid says:

    Now you’ve retreated to the non-starter of “taxes = theft’. Yawn….

  43. anjin-san says:

    > At what point does your theft become actually immoral to you?

    Funny how we just never heard about all this theft when we had a President who was Republican and white. Must be some kind of cosmic coincidence…

    > Why are we so much worse for wanting to keep our own money than the people who demand a right to take it from us and use it in ways we don’t approve?

    I kind of felt that way about the Iraq war. “Conservatives” told me that made me a traitor.

  44. Herb says:

    “So, you have no problems coercing my money for me, as long as it’s only three cents. ”

    Why must you be coerced out of three measly little cents?

    My point is that this is NOT about the money. It’s about you not liking NPR so much that you find it unconscionable that three shiny pennies out of a pile of hundreds of others of shiny pennies goes to fund a national radio station that’s enjoyed by millions.

    Which goes to the heart of this post. Hate NPR all you want, but don’t think picking your three pennies out of that pile is going to amount to jack’s chit.

  45. Jay Tea says:

    Herb: I don’t hate NPR. I said so. I just believe that it does not deserve public funding. I think that they have chosen to take certain positions and make certain statements that have had the consequence of alienating and insulting a large portion of the electorate. And the electorate is now expressing its opinion — it doesn’t want to continue funding.

    There is no Constitutional mandate to fund NPR.

    NPR has no right to expect federal funding. It’s a privilege.

    NPR chose, some time ago, to side against conservatives in general and the Tea Party in particular.

    “Elections have consequences.”


  46. john personna says:

    By “our money” do you mean democracy Jay?

    What are you expecting from the Senate on this?

  47. Jay Tea says:

    By “our money,” I mean “my money, and those who agree with me.”

    And I expect the Senate to disagree, and kill the measure — probably in some quiet manner.

    But the House writes the budget, and they could just not authorize any money — a “you’re not getting any money this year” instead of a “you can’t have any more money” move.

    At that point, it will become a battle of wills between the House and Senate — which side feels more strongly about the matter. And outside pressure will definitely be a factor.

    How will it end? Dunno. I’ll give my stock answer when I don’t have enough information on a situation — 50/50. It will or it won’t.

    But, to me, more interesting than the result will be the struggle — seeing who lines up on what side, what groups get themselves involved, and what tactics will be used. That often happens — in Wisconsin, several public sector unions are contacting businesses that supported Walker and telling them that they can either now publicly back the unions against Walker, or face a public boycott by the unions. And we saw the protesters forcibly occupy public buildings as their way of expressing their opinions. That means those options are now on the table for both sides.

    Sorry to get a bit meta here.


  48. Herb says:

    “NPR chose, some time ago, to side against conservatives in general and the Tea Party in particular.”

    Yes, yes….but as Doug said way up in his post, “Attacking something like NPR….may be popular with the Republican base,” (i.e. the Tea Party) “but it does nothing to combat the Budget deficit.”

    (Cue comment about how the Tea Party isn’t really the Republican base…..)

  49. Jay Tea says:

    Herb, I just caught a bit of this week’s “On The Media.” They brought in an expert on media bias. He discussed three “spheres” of issues — stuff we all agree is objective, stuff we all agree is debatable, and stuff we all agree is beyond debate. The first sphere was things like “slavery is bad” and “democracy is good.” The middle sphere was things like foreign policy, federal debt, and whatnot. The final sphere is the stuff that simply doesn’t bear debating — he cited “we don’t give the pro-pedophilia side a chance to speak.”

    Then he cited two examples of things that he believe belong in the third sphere, as in not worthy of even debating and advocates of such should be dismissed out of hand: anthropomorphic global warming and the Birthers.

    As I’ve said before, I will gleefully smack around the Birthers — but to simply declare them and the AGW questioners as simply not worthy of debating, or even acknowledging their existence?

    And finally, I tend to not see the Tea Party as “the GOP base.” What I see it is a faction that is attempting a takeover of the GOP. They’d prefer it to be a friendly takeover, but they’re willing to take it as a “hostile” one (through the ballot box, by taking on and taking out incumbents) if necessary.

    I don’t quite recognize a definable “base” on the right — at least not as clear a one as on the left, where a simple application of the “follow the money” principle says unions are the dominant force.


  50. Herb says:

    “anthropomorphic global warming”

    I know what you meant, but got a chuckle out of that anyway. I think you meant to use the word anthropogenic instead of the eggcorn anthropomorphic. FWIW, I agree with homeboy about Birthers and climate change deniers. Not because they’re likely to be right-wingers, but because they’ve been proven themselves impervious to evidence. It’s impossible to debate the delusional.

    “I tend to not see the Tea Party as “the GOP base.” What I see it is a faction that is attempting a takeover of the GOP.”

    So I guess what you’re saying is that the Tea Party is not the GOP base…..yet. But someday, if the stars align, they will be. Is that it?

    At any rate, what I’m saying is that yes, the GOP has a base. And the Tea Party is part of it. Not all of it. Part of it.

  51. Jay Tea says:

    Dammit. Yes, anthropogenic. Thanks, Herb.

    But Herb, would you actually equate the two groups with NAMBLA? ‘Cuz that’s what NPR’s expert did.


  52. Herb says:

    “would you actually equate the two groups with NAMBLA”

    Depends on the context. If the context is “groups who deserve no debate” then yeah, probably.

    But with that said, I don’t think you could fairly say that climate change denialism is anything like pedophilia.

  53. wr says:

    Herb — A pedolphile in a position of authority — a priest, say — can hurt hundreds, maybe thousands of kids over a career, as long as the church keeps covering for him. A global warming denialist in a position of power — say a congressional committee chair — can hurt billions of people. So you’re right, the two are not anything like each other.

  54. Jay Tea says:

    wr, go away. The grownups are talking. Go babble in the corner.

    Herb, it’s also worth noting that NPR’s “expert” didn’t cite any examples of things “not worth debating” from the left side. (Here’s the link, by the way.) And while I’ve personally taken on and tried to shut up some Birthers on my own blog, I’ve never banned them. And there is a far greater number of people who question AGW — including some very respected scientists, such as Dr. James Hansen, Dr. Ivar Giaever (Nobel Laureate in physics), and Dr. Freeman Dyson.

    The sun and the solar cycle have far more influence on our climate than anything we do — and, for that matter, does the earth itself. Volcanoes are far nastier than anything we have done, including using nuclear weapons.


  55. wr says:

    Jay Tea — I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you knew that your chosen position on AGW was a lie, and thus you felt you must shut down any discussion of the subject. I’ll try to keep that in mind in the future. Carry on.

  56. Jay Tea says:

    wr, have you EVER said anything that demonstrated an emotional maturity past the age of 12?

    Grow up a little, punk. Puberty can be fun. Give it a chance.