Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) ramped up his push to eliminate federal subsidies for public broadcasting as Republicans continue the fight to cut spending.
The conservative senator introduced legislation on Friday that would defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the entity that funds outlets such as NPR and PBS.
DeMint penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal saying that the entities are performing well financially (as evidenced by their executives' high salaries) and that they have a weak
commitment to objectivity.
"As Congress considers ways to close the $1.6 trillion deficit, cutting funding for the CPB has even been proposed by President Obama's bipartisan deficit reduction commission," he wrote. "Instead, Mr. Obama wants to increase CPB's funding to $451 million in his latest budget."
DeMint's push comes as Congress debates a plan to fund the government through the end of this fiscal year and develop an overall budget plan.
Republicans have proposed cutting public broadcasting subsidies — long an item of conservatives' scorn — as part of that effort. Conservatives have argued that public broadcasting outlets, such as NPR, have leaned to the left and accepted contributions from organizations funded by liberals.
"The best way to stop the 'partisan meddling' in public broadcasting that MoveOn.org complains about is by ending the taxpayers' obligation to pay for it," DeMint wrote. "The politics will be out of public broadcasting as soon as the government gets out of the business of paying for it."
The South Carolina senator wrote that last year, Congress appropriated $420 million for public broadcasting. The nation currently faces a $1.6 trillion budget deficit.
A spending plan passed by the House last month that cut $61 billion from last year's spending levels eliminated public broadcasting subsidies.
Republicans renewed their push against public broadcasting after NPR fired commentator Juan Williams last year.
NPR CEO Vivian Schiller said last month that cutting the funding would negatively affect consumers' ability to get quality news, especially those in under-served areas.
“It would diminish stations’ ability to bring high-quality local, national and international news to their communities, as well as local arts, music and cultural programming that other media don’t present," she said.
One of DeMint's main points was that popular public broadcasting franchises like "Sesame Street" make enough money to succeed on their own and that executives are pulling in six- and seven-figure salaries.
"When presidents of government-funded broadcasting are making more than the president of the United States, it's time to get the government out of public broadcasting," he wrote.
-- This post was updated at 10:52 a.m.