Email #84, Subject: “fiscal sanity”?

You recently applauded the appointment of Mick Mulvaney as the President’s Budget Director, saying he would bring “fiscal sanity” to Washington. Mr. Mulvaney recently released a list of proposed funding cuts that include the top programs for the arts, humanities, and public broadcasting. These are the same programs that you have been voting against since you took office in 1993. The argument hasn’t changed either. You and your GOP colleagues say we can’t afford them.

So let’s look at their annual budgets:

National Endowment for the Arts                           $148 million

National Endowment for the Humanities               $148 million

Corporation for Public Broadcasting                        $445 million

Together they total $741 million. While that is only a tiny fragment of the government’s $4 trillion annual budget, it is not illogical to argue that we need to trim pennies wherever we can.  But now look at the annual costs required by two of the President’s recent executive orders:

5,000 new Border Patrol agents                               $900 million

10,000 new immigration officers                             $3.9 billion

The first alone exceeds the proposed cuts by $159 million, which is more than either the NEA or NEH receives individually. The second costs more than five times the combined cuts, and yet you and your fellow GOP deficit hawks have endorsed this new spending. You have also agreed to move forward with construction of the “Great Wall” at a cost of $15-25 billion. Estimates for the President’s proposed transportation infrastructure spending range from $500 billion to $1 trillion, and his tax cuts will cost another estimated $1 trillion in annual revenue losses.

Check my math, but I believe that totals between $1.5 and 2.1 trillion. And that’s before the increase in military spending the President has also signaled. These figures are so high, cutting $741 million from the NEA, NEH, and CPB has no effect. Even rounding up to an even $1 billion (which in itself is more money than either the NEA or NEH receives individually), the cuts would offset the President’s increased spending by only $.001 trillion.

You told me in a letter last month: “Families all across our nation understand what it means to make tough decisions each day about what they can and cannot afford and government officials should be required to exercise similar restraint when spending the hard-earned dollars of our nation’s citizens.”

So where is your “restraint”?

What “tough decisions” are you making about what you “can and cannot afford”?

In what possible sense is this “fiscal sanity”?

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

One thought on “Email #84, Subject: “fiscal sanity”?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: