National / News / March 2, 2011

Cutting funds: politically charged?

In mid-February, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill, which has cut $60 billion in spending for federal programs, including cutting funding for National Public Radio (NPR), the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and Planned Parenthood.

Citing the bill as an effort to curb spending and balance the federal budget, Republicans passed the measure with a vote of 235-189. Included in the bill were cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a non-profit organization which partially supports the broadcasting outlets PBS and NPR.

Senior April Ulinski said, “PBS and NPR provide the sorts of programs I don’t hear about anywhere else and I would really miss them if they weren’t able to continue them.”

Sophomore Josh Gunter echoed Ulinski’s comments when he said NPR has a unique combination of news, features and entertainment people cannot get in many places.

Gunter said, “I listen to [NPR] because there’s something fundamentally different about getting something through the radio than through the television or maybe reading news online … I guess because you’re lacking visuals as, say, with television, you get to imagine how it looks sort of how you do when you read.”

Ulinski said it is important to have radio and broadcasting stations that do not rely on commercials, because that is the general trend for many stations. She said NPR does something commercialized stations are not brave enough to do, addressing things like religion and politics. She commented that her most-watched station is PBS, and that she has enjoyed many of the shows PBS broadcasts.

She said, “I watched “Wishbone” as a kid. I think it’s a really iconic series for many children. Few people remember it was on PBS … normal stations probably wouldn’t have carried it. There are a ton of iconic TV shows that few people remember but it was PBS that carried them.”

Gunter said one of the NPR shows he listens to is “Fresh Air with Terry Gross,” which is an hour-long show including interviews with people involved with politics, media, entertainment and arts. He also listens to “Morning Edition,” a morning news show, and his favorite radio show played on NPR is “This American Life.”

Speaking of “This American Life,” Gunter said, “They’re all narrative-based so it’s people telling their own stories or narrating parts of their own lives …it’s quirky sometimes. It can be very emotional.”

When asked about the cuts to NPR, Gunter said, “I think that would be a tragedy … because [NPR does] such different things that it’s still an important part of American culture … I don’t think [NPR]’s useless and there’s still large sections of the population who use [NPR] as a news-source and a source for information.”

Two weeks ago Ulinski took action to ensure PBS does not have its funding completely cut. Ulinski said, “When I found out about it, I sent a letter to some of my Congressmen.”

Some argue that the cuts to NPR and PBS were politically motivated because the two are seen as outlets for liberal voices.

Ulinski said, “I don’t think this is a Republican or a Democrat thing. I think NPR and PBS are things that benefit both ends of the political spectrum.”

When asked if the budget cuts to the sexual and reproductive health care provider Planned Parenthood are politically charged, senior Amelia Garcia said, “I think a lot of the reasoning behind it seems to be misguided, so I think it could be political.”

Garcia said she thought it was disturbing that many of the people she knows support cuts to Planned Parenthood because they think the organization only provides abortions. She says these people approach the issue from a pro-life perspective and support cutting funding of Planned Parenthood in order to prevent the killing of babies, which she said is a shallow understanding of its services, because they provide more than abortions.

She said, “It’s just one of those sad things where women’s reproductive health is kind of obstructed for all these nonsensical reasons or misunderstandings lead people to be unable to access health care, which some people don’t consider reproductive health care to be health care.”

Freshman Alex Uzarowicz, who describes himself as “pretty conservative” in that he is conservative and not idealistic, said that the Republican bill to cut $60 billion in spending does not solve the problem of the nation’s debt crisis.

Uzarowicz said, “How we solve the debt crisis is targeting entitlement spending … in the long-run, we need to talk about the larger problem, which is America addicted to entitlement funding.”

As an advocate for small government, and commenting on cutting funding for Planned Parenthood, Uzarowicz said the government should not have a role in abortions and does not think any funding should go toward abortions. Although he is pro-life and believes it is up to the state governments as proscribed by the Constitution to decide on abortion, he said, “Philosophically, I’m against Planned Parenthood but defunding it is not going to help our debt crisis and neither is … defunding NPR.”

Speaking of Obama’s deficit commission, which plans to reduce the deficit through tax increases, cutting the corporate tax and reforming entitlements, Uzarowicz said, “Those are things we need to do. I’m not so thrilled about the tax increases but I am thrilled that in the beginning … in 2011, we had this feeling that there was a bipartisan approach to deficit reduction. Right now we’re getting to specifics and both parties are dividing each other.”

Uzarowicz said that not all federal programs should get cut because people depend on them but, “We should reform it in a way that we do this job of granting care for the elderly and the poor in a more efficient manner.”

He said that President Obama should be more of an active executive power in terms of spending and reform.

Uzarowicz said, “As a president, he needs to step it up and reform these things. Republicans are not addressing these things because they don’t have the president addressing them…If Obama brings it up, it brings a more mature perspective because then Republicans can contribute to what he says.”

Sheena Leano

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