Texas representative Bill Flores, chair of the Republican Study Committee, has released a Blueprint for a Balanced Budget 2.0 (PDF) that lays out a Republican plan for austerity under the guise of fiscal responsibility. It's a horrifying document, one that leaves the American people on their own while sustaining enormous military expenditures that amount to, by far, the largest defense budget on earth. So what gets cut? Programs that assist the poor, regulatory committes, and healthy school lunches ("funding for the National School Lunch Program standards should be prohibited, returning control of students’ diets to their parents.") This is a budget that even goes further than the budgets proposed by Speaker Paul Ryan — a famous Ayn Rand fan — in years past.
Also on the chopping block? The arts, including the NEA:
The federal government should not be in the business of funding the arts. Support for the arts can easily and more properly be found from non-governmental sources. Eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts would save taxpayers $148 million per year and eliminating the National Endowment for the Humanities would save an additional $148 million per year.
and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts:
It is inappropriate for the federal government to subsidize a performing arts center in one of the wealthiest areas in the country. Eliminating subsidies to the Kennedy Center beginning in FY 2017 would save taxpayers $36.4 million per year.
and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting:
A free society should not have government-supported media outlets, especially ones that so often convey political news and opinion. There is no shortage of media outlets and news services available to consumers. Eliminating all taxpayer funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) beginning in FY 2017 would save $445 million per year.
and federal funding for museums and libraries:
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) provides grants to local museums and libraries, a task that can be better handled by the private sector and local governments. Eliminating the IMLS would save $230 million per year.
Needless to say, all of these programs amount to an eyedropper's worth of expenditures in the ocean that is the budget. And their claims that the private sector would somehow step in to save the arts is not founded in truth. Any nonprofit worker, particularly in the arts, can tell you that it has become much harder for nonprofits to secure private funding over the last decade or so. This is a budget that would destroy some of your favorite arts organizations.
As smarter people than yours truly have pointed out, this budget isn't actually about money. This budget is a message. It's a message to readers and writers and artists and lovers of art and musicians that when all is said and done, if Republicans had their way — by destroying the Affordable Care Act that provides so many freelancers with insurance, by emphasizing profit and material gain over quality of life, by making it easier to get a gun than to get assistance paying student debt — there would be no room for them in America. There is no room for art and for stories in the Republican budget, and there is no room for artists and readers and storytellers in the America they want to build. Somewhere over the last few years, Republicans squarely entered cartoon super-villain territory.