Sens. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., introduced a bill Friday to stop federal funding of NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Conservative Republicans have been itching to defund the two programs for years and they've now compiled evidence they believe shows overcompensation of the organization's executives as well as a trail of donations leading to the doorstep of liberal financier George Soros.
"Our nation is on the edge of bankruptcy and Congress must make some tough choices to rein in spending, but ending taxpayer subsidies of public broadcasting should be an easy decision,” DeMint said.
NPR didn't help its standing with Republicans when it fired host Juan Williams after an appearance on Fox News in which Williams expressed a fear of flying with someone dressed in Muslim garb.
A statement from Coburn and DeMint follows, and it includes interesting tidbits, including eye-popping salaries of the heads of PBS, NPR and even Sesame Street!
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will never take up this legislation, but it could make its way onto a bill as an amendment, given Reid's pledge for more open floor proceedings. Chances of passage in the Senate, though, are slim to none.
Here's the statement:
Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, R-S.C., a member of the Senate Commerce Committee that oversees the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D., R-Okla., introduced legislation to stop taxpayer subsidies to public radio and television. CPB-funded television and radio programs are distributed through National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Since 2001, CPB has received nearly $4 billion in taxpayer money.
"Our nation is on the edge of bankruptcy and Congress must make some tough choices to rein in spending, but ending taxpayer subsidies of public broadcasting should be an easy decision,” said Sen. DeMint. "Americans struggling to make ends meet shouldn’t be forced to fund public broadcasting when there are already thousands of choices for educational and entertainment programming on the television, radio and web. President Obama’s own bipartisan debt commission proposed ending these unnecessary subsidies to public broadcasting. NPR boasts that it only gets 2 percent of their funding from taxpayers and PBS gets about 15 percent, so these programs should be able to find a way to stand on their own.”
“Politicians in Washington should focus their attention on eliminating the more than $200 billion in duplicative spending GAO highlighted this week and stop defending indefensible subsidies for public broadcasting," said Dr. Coburn. “The federal government has no business picking winners and losers in today’s highly competitive media environment. NPR and CPB will do just fine without largesse from Washington."
CPB was incorporated as a private nonprofit corporation under the authority of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, and its first taxpayer subsidy in 1969 was $5 million. Today, CPB is slated to receive $430 million from taxpayers in the current fiscal year and President Obama recently asked for an increase to $451 million.
According to the 2009 tax forms all nonprofits are required to file (990), PBS President Paula Kerger received $632,233 in compensation that year while NPR President Emeritus, Kevin Klose, received more than $1.2 million in compensation. The PBS program Sesame Street’s Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell received $956,513 — nearly a million dollars — in compensation in 2008. And, from 2003 to 2006, "Sesame Street" made more than $211 million from toy and consumer product sales.
In 2010, NPR accepted a controversial $1.8 million grant from the Open Society Foundation, backed by liberal financier George Soros, to hire 100 reporters. Additionally, NPR has an endowment of over $200 million.
List of federal funding for CPB over the years, provided by the Congressional Research Service:
• 2001: $340 million
• 2002: $350 million
• 2003: $362.8 million
• 2004: $377.8 million
• 2005: $386.8 million
• 2006: $396 million
• 2007: $400 million
• 2008: $393 million
• 2009: $400 million
• 2010: $420 million
• 2011: $430 million