When a politician’s speech starts with the words “Our nation is drowning in debt, $17.5 trillion dollars of it, and every additional second I speak to you on this video message adds another $23,000 to this already staggering number. Yet…”, you know that the politician is about to announce plans to eliminate spending of some kind.
So it was this week when U.S. Representative Matt Salmon, from the 5th congressional district of Arizona, introduced H.R. 5210, which would completely eliminate spending on the National Endowment of the Humanities.
The annual budget of the National Endowment of the Humanities is 154 million dollars. That’s less than 9/10000 of one percent of the federal debt that Salmon referred to at the beginning of his speech. That means that Matt Salmon’s legislation would take more than a million years to pay off the federal debt – if the federal debt did not accumulate interest, which it does.
The current annual interest on the federal debt is $354.9 billion. If the savings from Matt Salmon’s proposal to cut the National Endowment for the Humanities were added to an account to pay down the interest on the federal debt, it would take more than two thousand, three hundred years to save up enough money to pay down just one year of the interest. In all that time, interest on the federal debt would continue to compound, so, Matt Salmon’s plan would never, ever, pay down the federal debt, or even pay off one year of the interest on that debt.
The math makes it plain: Matt Salmon’s plan to deal with the federal debt by eliminating funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities is completely ineffectual. Given that, it’s worth considering what the impact of eliminating funding for the National Endowment of the Humanities. The following would be cut if Salmon’s bill were signed into law:
– Research into ways to use the computational power of Big Data to benefit humankind.
– Funding for museums and libraries
– Programs to improve teachers’ ability to provide effective instruction in American history
In Matt Salmon’s home state of Arizona, the following are among the recent projects that received support from the National Endowment of the Humanities:
– Efforts to preserve historical documents at the Northern Arizona University Cline Library
– Cabinets to preserve historical documents at the Museum of Northern Arizona
– Preparation of a long term exhibit on the history of human settlement of the Southwestern United States at the University of Arizona
– Transportation of historical artifacts in the collection of the Arizona Historical Society
– Preservation of Clovis Archaeological Materials at the Arizona State Museum
– Promotion of cultural heritage tourism projects in Arizona communities
If funding for these programs were cut, much of the record of Arizona’s history would be lost. Does Matt Salmon really want Arizona’s history to be forgotten?
There are alternatives to eliminating the tiny budget of the National Endowment of Humanities. For example, the Back To Work Budget that was proposed last year would have cut 4.4 trillion dollars in federal spending every year. The Back To Work Budget would have been more than 28,000 times more effective than Matt Salmon’s plan to force libraries to sacrifice America’s historical records. Yet, Matt Salmon voted against it