Donald Trump (Credit: ABC/Fred Watkins)

Trump Budget Zeros Out CPB

OMB director says "soft power" programs being cut in "hard power" budget

As predicted, President Donald Trump's new "America First" budget, being released at 7 a.m. March 16, will zero out funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides most of a half billion dollars in federal money for noncommercial media.

That is according to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, who outlined the President's budget in a conference call with reporters. White House press secretary Sean Spicer had circulated a Washington Post story about the President's budget this week that included the expectation CPB was cut, which this White House was unlikely to do if it conflicted with the plans.

Asked whether CPB's funding [$421 million] would be eliminated, Mulvaney shot back "yes" immediately, then finessed his answer a bit, but essentially only on a technicality.

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"No, I'm, sorry, I was too quick with that," he added. "We propose ending funding, but technically what you will see is it's elimination, but you'll see an amount of money in the budget necessary for us to unwind our involvement in CPB, but it will see a zero next to it; the policy is we're ending federal involvement with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The budget is only a blueprint and Congress must approve its line items.

While in the past Republicans, and even some Democrats, have balked at the funding and pushed for cuts, more recently there has been support from both sides for full funding.

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CPB is forward funded to try and keep politics out of it and in June of last year, it was fully funded through 2019. But it looks like it will be backward unfunded. Mulvaney said funding would be for "winding down" in the 2017 and zeroed out in 2018.

Mulvaney did not talk specifically about CPB beyond saying it was being defunded, but did say that to increase the budgets for Defense, Homeland Security and billions for The Wall ($1.5 billion in 2017, more than $2 billion in 2018), there were dollar-for-dollar cuts in and of programs he said were indefensible. He also called it a "hard power" budget that required cutting soft-power programs.

CPB provides about 15% of noncom budgets, with the rest coming from corporate underwriters and contributions from viewers.

Some other takeaways from the call were the 28% reduction in the State Department's budget, much of that from foreign aid programs.

Mulvaney said that there would be cuts in infrastructure spending, which would appear not to square with the President’s plan to spend on infrastructure upgrades. But he said that was because money was being moved out of less efficient programs and parked to be used in more efficient ones.