A Drop in the Bucket

On March 17, 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure aimed at defunding National Public Radio (NPR). In a strongly partisan vote—most Republicans voted for it while every Democrat voted against it—the government withdrew $3.2 million of support for NPR.

According to Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), “With the national debt over $13 trillion, the government simply can’t afford to fund non-essential services. NPR can survive on its own.”

Indeed, it would seem laudable to trim wasteful spending whenever and wherever possible regardless of the economic climate. And if NPR can survive without government support, perhaps it would be better off for it. It would no longer need to worry about biting the hand that feeds it or, probably more appropriate in this case, occasionally touching the hand that, every once in a while, drops a crumb on its plate.

NPR receives only about 2% of its funding from government grants.

That said, and with such praiseworthy Republican efforts to trim government spending, why is the GOP unwilling to touch oil industry subsidies?

Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) and Sarah Palin (R-HasBeen,NeverWasActually) are calling the $4 billion that would be saved annually by eliminating these subsidies “a drop in the bucket” and “not even a drop in the bucket.” Meanwhile, it is projected that ending nine subsidies specific to the oil industry will save the U.S. $45 billion over the next ten years.

Perhaps, unlike NPR, the oil industry cannot survive on its own so they need these subsidies just to break even. If only years of record profits didn’t say otherwise.

I’m no math major, but by my calculations FOUR BILLION DOLLARS is one big ass “drop.” Still, we would have to find and get rid of 3,500 boondoggles of equal value to eliminate today’s almost $14 trillion debt.

Then again, perhaps the Republican Party has found 4,375,000 instances of non-essentially funded programs worth $3.2 million. That’s how many it would take under their excellent tutelage to eliminate the debt. (If any Republicans are reading this, “excellent tutelage” was sarcasm and I apologize for the lack of pictures. Now, break out that dictionary and look up “tutelage” and “sarcasm.”)

Allow me to summarize from the GOP’s on-the-record point of view:

  1. $3.2 million? Get rid of it. We can’t afford it.
  2. $4 billion? Don’t touch it. Not even a drop in the bucket.

And while I’m doing ordered lists…

Possible reasons why the Republican Party doesn’t understand its loss of credibility:

  1. No members intelligent enough to understand the answer.
  2. No members intelligent enough to understand the question.
  3. All members have their hands over their ears and saying, “La-la-la-la.”