Sacrifice PBS in favor of health care and defense spending

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Article Highlights

  • It is of course correct that PBS constitutes a tiny share of federal expenditures. But is the share too large?

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  • As a nation, Americans must confront the cold, hard reality of our fiscal situation. @michaelrstrain

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  • For the past 4 years, the government of the US spent $1 trillion more than it took in. @michaelrstrain

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It is of course correct that PBS constitutes a tiny share of federal expenditures. But is the share too large?

I grew up on Seasame Street. (Though Big Bird wasn't my favorite.) I watch Charlie Rose. I like NOVA, and I watch the PBS Newshour quite regularly. PBS even helped cultivate my love of Mr. Bruce Springsteen and his mighty E Street Band by airing their old concerts.

But as a nation we must confront the cold, hard reality of our fiscal situation. For a long time it was believed that the government could provide guns and butter, but that providing more of one meant providing less of the other. In the parlance of economists, government maximized subject to constraints. Well, over the last decade or so we have paid a lot less attention to living within our means. At the end of the 2002 fiscal year public debt was about one third of GDP-today it is close to 75 percent. For the past four years the government of the United States spent one trillion dollars more than it took in.

Read the full argument on US News and World Report Debate Club.

Michael R. Strain is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

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About the Author


Michael R.
  • Michael R. Strain is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, where he studies labor economics, public finance, and applied microeconomics. His research has been published in peer-reviewed academic journals and in the policy journals Tax Notes and National Affairs. Dr. Strain also writes frequently for popular audiences on topics including labor market policy, jobs, minimum wages, federal tax and budget policy, and the Affordable Care Act, among others.  His essays and op-eds have been published by National Review, The New York Times, The Weekly Standard, The Atlantic, Forbes, Bloomberg View, and a variety of other outlets. He is frequently interviewed by major media outlets, and speaks often on college campuses. Before joining AEI he worked on the research team of the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics program and was the manager of the New York Census Research Data Center, both at the U.S. Census Bureau.  Dr. Strain began his career in the macroeconomics research group of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  He is a graduate of Marquette University, and holds an M.A. from New York University and a Ph.D. from Cornell.

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