Thursday, February 17, 2011

Gerry Connolly Fights For Job Saving Funding in Public Television and the Arts

As I pointed out yesterday, the Republicans have been focusing their attention on saving tax cuts at the same time they've proposed cutting away programs that provide valuable resources to the general public and create jobs. As part of those efforts, they've gone after funding for public television and the arts, which would cost almost 30,000 jobs in Northern Virginia alone. Thankfully, whether it's through his efforts to save Metro funding or his efforts now on the cuts to public television, Rep. Gerry Connolly has been standing up for the working class.

The following is a statement released by Gerry's office about why he strongly opposes these cuts.

Efforts by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to eliminate or cut funding for public television and radio and the arts in the continuing resolution could impact 5,836 businesses and jeopardize more than 28,000 jobs in Northern Virginia, Congressman Gerry Connolly said today.

The House Republican majority has targeted the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and related arts programs for extinction as the House continues to work on the majority’s spending bill to fund the federal government for the next seven months. (H.R. 1, the Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year 2011)

“Unfortunately, too many members of the majority party want to engage in culture wars on the House floor rather than focus on the worthwhile benefits to current and future generations derived from the arts and public television and radio,” said Connolly, who is a member of the Congressional Arts Caucus. “These short-sighted cuts ignore the 3 million Americans, including more than 68,000 Virginians, currently employed in creative industries. These senseless and draconian cuts have the potential to deny access to museums, symphonies, and other arts activities for all but the most wealthy among us.”

The Virginia Congressman said that the arts also provide many children with the foundation to begin creative careers. “Are we going to deny opportunities to the next generation of great artists, musicians, and thespians?” he asked.

Criticizing the GOP legislation to eliminate the CPB, Connolly pointed out that more than 170 million Americans are regular viewers and listeners of public television and radio stations across the United States. “Public broadcasting provides some of the highest quality of radio and television programming. CPB could just as well be an acronym for Children and Parents Benefit because the programming available to all ages, from pre-schoolers to adults, is enlightening, educational, and unbiased,” Connolly said.

“Whose children have not grown up learning their ABCs from Sesame Street? Who has not enjoyed one of the many rich musical performances or riveting documentaries, including Ken Burns’ historic 1990 series on the American Civil War, and a recent series on America’s national parks, shown exclusively on PBS?” Connolly asked in a House floor statement during debate on the bill.

“In America, unlike many countries around the world, the media industry always has been a completely commercial enterprise. Public broadcasting was not designed to supplant private media - and given the explosion of private television channels it clearly has not. Instead it merely provides viewers with a broad selection of educational and cultural programs that are available for free in every household in every community,” he said.

“Public broadcasting is an extraordinarily cost-effective investment in America’s cultural and educational advancement,” Connolly said. “For more than 40 years, PBS and NPR have brought the world to our homes, regardless of our financial means or where we lived. PBS, NPR, and its local stations are to broadcasting what the Internet is to the digital revolution, and like the internet, it democratizes and provides universal access to information,” Connolly said.

“We must not sever access to such a unifying public resource at the short-sighted altar of fiscal dogma.”

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