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Our view: What is Mulvaney really saying about coal miners?

By The Editorial Board
updated: 3/17/2017 11:04 AM

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney had this to say Thursday as he described how the Trump Administration made decisions about what domestic programs would be cut from the proposed federal budget to pay for the big increase in military spending.

"When you start looking at places that we reduce spending, one of the questions we asked was can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia ... to pay for these programs?" Mulvaney said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program.

"We can ask them to pay for defense, and we will, but we can't ask them to continue to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting."

OK, he specifically mentioned West Virginia and not southern Illinois. But what did he mean, exactly?

Whether the federal government kicks in money for public television isn't directly our issue here. Mulvaney's implication -- as we read it -- is that coal mining families don't use public TV so why should they have to pay for it.

We're a little skeptical.

Public TV is free. It was the first source of quality educational programming in the nation, and remains among the most highly touted today.

We respectfully submit our children watch Sesame Street with the same devotion children all across the country do. That our parents are as interested in educational programming for their children as much as parents in Chicago and Paducah and St. Louis. And that families use the local programming created by individual stations.

If the feds cut the CPR subsidy, so be it. But they shouldn't assume that nobody cares.

According to The Washington Post, the federal investment in public media is essentially used as seed money -- in many cases for stations in rural America -- and not as operating funds for PBS and NPR. Losing this money, the article states, means rural stations would have to raise approximately 200 percent more in private donations to replace the federal investment.

That's a pretty tall order, just to keep Big Bird in front of our toddlers.