Dems defeat Lamborn’s ‘defund NPR’ proposal

Congressional Democrats voted down the first GOP legislative proposal since the midterm elections, Colorado Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn’s proposal to strip tax money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Members of the Republican caucus held up the proposal as the kind of tough cost-cutting measure that would mark the new GOP-led Congress. Like bill-sponsor Lamborn, they also made no bones about the ideological satisfaction they would get from attacking the news organization, which they view as a platform for liberal views.

The money saved by the proposed cut, $450 million, is a little less than the amount most Republicans including Lamborn are asking taxpayers to shell out for an extra fighter engine the Pentagon has said it doesn’t need. President Obama has said the jet engine is essentially an earmark and that he will veto the defense spending bill if it includes the engine funding.

In June, Lamborn argued his bill wasn’t ideological.

“PBS may produce worthwhile content,” he wrote in a release. “That is not the issue. The issue is that we cannot subsidize organizations that can stand on their own two feet in the day of trillion dollar deficits.”

Yet in the wake of the anti-NPR campaign waged in the fall by FOX News host Bill O’Reilly and Tea Party U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, Lamborn ratcheted up his rhetoric around the bill.

“You may have heard about the recent firing of NPR News Analyst Juan Williams and the $1.8 million donation by liberal activist George Soros to hire 100 NPR reporters,” Lamborn wrote to supporters in an October release. “These two actions make it clear that public broadcasting is a friend and protector of liberal issues and political correctness, at the expense of free speech and balanced news reporting.

“It is time for Congress to prioritize its spending to our nation’s most pressing needs. With the national debt over $13 trillion dollars, the government cannot continue to fund non-essential services that cater to the priorities of the liberal media elite.”

As the Colorado Independent reported when the bill was first introduced, Lamborn said the cut his bill would make was the kind of “low-hanging fruit” Americans were looking for members of Congress to pluck. Yet as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Lamborn voted to preserve the controversial program to develop the second alternative engine for the F-35 fighter jet. The cost of that program is roughly $485 million, according to Reuters.

The Department of Defense asked Congress not to fund the program. The Pentagon said the program would spend money that could be much better used to buy additional jets.

Lamborn was the sole member of the Colorado delegation to vote for the engine.

Ex-Marine, Republican and strong Defense backer Rep. Mike Coffman joined with Democrats in agreeing with the Pentagon and the President that the engine program amounted to wasteful spending and he voted against keeping the program in the National Defense Authorization Act.

Lamborn told the Colorado Independent that funding for PBS and for the jet engine shouldn’t be compared.

“These are two unrelated issues,” Lamborn wrote in an email. “In the era of a 500-channel universe, taxpayer-funded broadcasting is a luxury.”

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