Republican Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) offered a mix review of President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts on Thursday morning.
“The President’s budget acknowledges that we tax and spend too much in this country and we need a serious plan to tackle our national deficit and 20 trillion dollars in national debt. Congress has worked in a bipartisan fashion to reduce the deficit by nearly one trillion dollars and I agree that we need to keep up that momentum,” said Lance in a statement obtained by Save Jersey. “But I do not agree with each and every line item. Cutting the Coast Guard, programs through the Department of Justice and revenue builders like the NEA are penny wise but pound foolish. Congress will have the final say on spending priorities for the Nation and I want to reach bipartisan solutions on mandatory spending before our rising debt leads to economic hardship. Both political parties contributed to this problem and both need to be engaged in the solution.”
The Trump approach would scrap the NEA’s $148 million budget.
Not everyone on the right agrees regarding the NEA’s value.
“Americans’ voluntary contributions to arts organizations (‘arts/culture/humanities’ institutions reaped $17 billion in 2015) dwarf the NEA’s subventions, which would be replaced if those who actually use the organizations — many of them supported by state- and local-government arts councils — are as enthusiastic about them as they claim to be,” columnist George Will argued in a recent published editorial. “The idea that the arts will wither away if the NEA goes away is risible. Distilled to its essence, the argument for the NEA is: Art is a Good Thing, therefore a government subsidy for it is a Good Deed. To appreciate the non sequitur, substitute ‘macaroni and cheese’ for ‘art.'”
Lance, for his part, has emerged as an affable but consistent Trump critic in recent weeks, favoring an Obamacare “repair” over a repeal and questioning other Trump proposals including the cost for a Mexican border wall.
His GOP colleague Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) was similarly direct about efforts to shave the Coast Guard’s budget by 14%.
“They need increases. They are strapped to the limit now,” LoBiondo told the Press of AC. “They can’t afford to be cut a penny in my view.”
The military would nevertheless see an overall increase of $54 billion; Homeland Security’s budget would increase by 7% and veterans’ services would see a 6% increase.