Less taxpayer money for U.N., none for NPR among cuts proposed by co-chairs of Obama commission

Among the $200 billion in spending cuts recommended — when the co-chairs of President Obama’s deficit commission dropped their draft proposal out of nowhere into an unsuspecting post-election political scene on Wednesday — are some very politically charged items.

Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson proposed cutting the U.S. taxpayer’s contribution to the United Nations, an organization which many conservatives and moderates see as anti-U.S. and anti-Israel. The draft proposal recommends reducing the “voluntary” funds that taxpayers dish out to the U.N. each year on top of the dues that each country pays.

The U.S. in the 2009 fiscal year paid $2.7 billion in dues to the U.N., and an additional $3.6 billion in voluntary funds. Bowles, a former White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, and Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, suggest cutting the voluntary funds by $300 million a year. It’s likely less than many would like to see that number cut, but it is a first hack at what many on the left and no doubt at the U.N. itself see as a sacred cow.

A spokesman for Obama’s ambassador to the U.N., Secretary Susan Rice, did not return a request for comment.

Also included in the report is a recommendation to eliminate government funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, whose “primary job is to fund [National Public Radio] and its member stations … and PBS and its member stations.”

Coming on the heels of the recent uproar over NPR’s firing of Juan Williams for comments they deemed insensitive, and the threats by many Republicans to defund the station, this proposed cut is also significant. Though NPR does not depend in any way solely on CPB for funding, an elimination of CPB funding would nonetheless hurt NPR.

CPB released a statement that said they “strongly disagree” with the proposal, and that “this important investment … should be supported for the benefit, education and enrichment of all Americans.”

“The federal investment represents an average of 15 percent of funding for the more than 1,100 public radio and television stations around the country, and stations use this investment to raise funds from the communities they serve. In some cases, especially in rural and low-income areas, public broadcasting serves as a lifeline of content, information and services to the community,” the CPB statement read.

One cut that would hit a broad cross section of Americans is a cut in funding to the Smithsonian and National Park Service. The reduction of funding for the Smithsonian by $225 million would require a charge of $7.50 to visit the 19 museums and the National Zoo, which are currently free. A cut of $75 million to the National Park Service would require a visitor fee to national parks of 25 cents per visitor.

While those are three of the most headline-grabbing cuts included in the Bowles/Simpson report, which has not been voted on by the 18 commission members and has no binding or legal power over Congress, the full list of spending reductions is a cornucopia of inflammatory recommendations, at least for the groups, agencies or organizations whose interests are at stake.

Yet the outcry is likely just a foreshadowing of how acrimonious American politics is likely to become in the near future and over the next several years, as the government grapples with how to close an annual deficit and national debt that could significantly diminish the nation if it is not addressed.

There are 38 itemized cuts or reductions proposed on the domestic side, with an additional 19 items in defense. The cuts add up to $100.2 billion in domestic savings, and $100.1 billion in defense savings.

  • h8mongr

    No more project labor agreements. Let non-union businesses bid on jobs that are over 25 mil.
    No more prevailing wage to workers on government jobs. My hubs used to drive a dump truck and when they would work on schools or interstates he would get about double his hourly rate.

    Prisons should be self-sufficient when possible, and when not, should be supported by those that can be.
    No more “weight-rooms”. Have them raise chickens, cattle and grow their own vegetables. I see prisons with tons of land not being used. This would save the taxpayers and teach them crooks to appreciate something.
    Have you seen the figures as to how much it costs per year to house 1 stinking prisoner?

    No federal money,or state money for sports arenas, the arts, or any for profit entertainment venue…and yes I am ALL for defunding that sorry PBS crap. While the actual programming can be pretty darn great at times, the dumbo interns or stoned sound engineers are ruining it. I stopped watching after the sound track either does not match up to their mouths, or the sound is low then loud OR there is NO sound all together. Plus, I just plain can’t stand anything that leans that far left. They are always begging for money, the phones sound like they are ringing, so unless those are dummy rings to try to get people to call, then let the people who want it, fund it.

    And do something about that reeking post office. Crying that they have to raise rates then paying for houses so workers can relocate.
    The union there has REALLY funkyed it up. They find workers sleeping, drinking, talking on the phone…all the time. Warnings is what they get. The only way they can terminate you is if they catch you stealing.
    Hey! idiot post office, lower your rates to send a stinking package and maybe you’d get more business. No more federal funds for you. I sent a small guitar amp to CA from OH and it was 118.00…sheesh.

    On a local level, NO new school buildings until the current one is at least 50 years old. Neighborhood schools for all. State mandate for teacher testing and reviews. Basic mastering of skills before a child is passed. Public vote on raises for schoolboard staff. Privatization of schools a goal.

    That’s it for now, I’m hungry.

  • loudog

    “If the additional elements of defense spending continue to maintain the same ratio to the Pentagon’s amount—and we have every reason to suppose they will—then in fiscal year 2007, through which we are now passing, the grand total spent for defense will be $1.028 trillion/yr.”


    A close second is China at $78 billion/yr. Stop the madness.

    • truebearing

      Yes! You’re aboslutely right about getting rid of unions so we can become competitive again, and stop producing everything in China. Good point!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tee-Vawter/1806690732 Tee Vawter

    Meow! If these are the prescriptions coming out of the Catfood Commission, my paw is in the air to them. Let’s pass every one of these recommendations. The important thing–always–is TO BEGIN.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Chiacchieri/1650589057 Jeff Chiacchieri

    While we are slashing and working at this I wonder when we will attack the big ones? Obamas overseas expanding the free trade that’s been bankrupting America and/of its industry for 2 decades, while our financial market at home continues to be looted from hedge fund short sellers! There all in the Caribbean on there mega yachts, I have been there & listened to them brag/spew their unpatriotic rhetoric with my own eyes & ears earlier this year! Congressional committees have not taken responsibility to write policy, regulate banks, the stock market & hedge-fund short-sellers. Greed, corruption, power & the all mighty dollar is their mission statement. America has sat on the sidelines while over-active wall street, under-active Washington, National & International traitors disguised as capitalists have created unprecedented havoc within our financial systems, subverting capitalism & our free economy. The whole system must be dismantled, reassembled, & regulated…if we are to restore America that is! G Soros is one example & Bets on U.S. Financial Collapse http://is.gd/gR2Ur

  • taz

    On defense spending I have a suggestion to this commission. Its not our base pay that is the problem, but I would agree on a pay freeze for 3 years. The procurment process is clearly broken. The way contracts are done, how we spend funds is dysfunction at best. We can save billions if we simply clean up this process, but it starts with politicans stop interfering (mainly congress)just because there district or state will loose jobs. Put the good of nation first, last I check they are all “U.S. Congressmen/women.”

  • Zugzwang

    I, for one, as a NPR listener who often rents PBS DVDs, see that it’s plainly my responsibility to put up with commercials and higher prices if need be. As for NPR, aren’t journalists supposed to have open-minded skepticism of the government as their default viewpoint? How can NPR take money from the government, George Soros, other organizations and institutions with missions, without in some way furthering the objectives of these entities? If NPR, PBS do not do this, then their underwriting from these sources will not continue. All McDonald’s, Buweiser et al. want to do is to expose NPR consumers to brand commercials. It’s time they be allowed to do that.