The economic debate in Washington D.C. is in desperate need of some context. Republicans speak as if they’re going to seriously lower the federal budget deficit by ending all federal funding for NPR, but the fact is that NPR and its member stations only receive about 9.8 million dollars per year.
The federal budget deficit this year is 1.27 trillion dollars. That means that it would take 129 billion, 591 million, 8 hundred thousand years to pay off just this year’s budget deficit using the money saved by no longer spending the money that goes to NPR. Keep in mind that the sun is expected to die in just 5 billion years from now. So, the Republican strategy of paying off the budget deficit by cutting NPR funds could only work if human civilization were able travel between the stars, setting up new colonies through the lifespan of 10 to 20 solar systems – and even then, only one year of deficit spending would be paid off.
The cost of the war in Afghanistan this year, on the other hand, is rather large: 119.4 billion dollars. That’s not counting the considerable indirect payments from the federal government that enable to Afghanistan fighting to continue. Certainly, ending the war in Afghanistan wouldn’t be enough to eliminate the federal budget deficit. However, it would take us 10.6 percent of the way toward that goal – a substantial chunk.
The ratio of annual indirect federal funding of NPR to annual direct funding of the war in Afghanistan is 1 to 12,183. That means that, if the war in Afghanistan were discontinued this year, the money that would be saved could be used to continue the current level of federal funding that makes its way to NPR until the year 14194. Radio will be obsolete long before then, I’m guessing.
Which program do you think that the House of Representatives voted to defund yesterday? Yes, in the name of “fiscal responsibility”, the lower house of Congress voted to take funding away from NPR, but voted to keep the escalating cost of the war in Afghanistan going without any end date.
In this axis of mathematical ignorance, the following members of the House of Representatives voted both to cut 9.8 million dollars from NPR and to keep the annual 119.4 billion dollars of government funding for the war in Afghanistan:
… Oh my gosh. I was going to list these U.S. Representatives by name, but the list would take up far too much room to be contained in an article of reasonable length. By my count, 214 members of the House, all Republicans, voted yes on cutting NPR funding and no on ending the massive drain of U.S. dollars to the war in Afghanistan.
Could any political position be more craven? Actually, yes. The following five Republicans from the House of Representatives showed up to vote down NPR funding, but couldn’t be bothered even to be present to cast a vote on whether to continue the war in Afghanistan: