Amendment to Stimulus Bill Bans Funding for Parks, Museums, Theaters and Arts

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High Line Park, New York

We love parks. They're green. They have trees. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma thinks they are a waste of money. So he stuck an amendment into the stimulus bill to prohibit funding of museums, arts centers, parks and theaters. Just to make everybody equally angry, no money can be spent on sports stadia, casinos or golf courses.

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No planting trees if Tom Coburn gets his way

So there will be no Conservation Corps planting trees and building new parks if he gets his way; no fixing of arts centers and museums.

James Russell in Bloomberg notes:

From an economic standpoint, starving the arts is suicidal.....In most parts of the country there is no argument about the value of the arts, especially as a renewal tool. Rural hamlets, city halls and statehouses nationwide encourage the arts because of their power to spur economic development.

It’s time for the federal government, which has played a declining role in supporting the arts over the past 25 years, to step back in. If funding is prioritized by how many jobs would be created, the arts would score very well, especially compared to tax credits and rebates. If measured by multiplier effects -- and we should fervently hope for that -- the arts would shine.

That Senator Coburn may get away with such an idiotic amendment suggests ideology is prevailing over reason.

Not to mention the people who might have been put to work building parks, fixing theaters and arts centers, building the kind of social infrastructure that lasts for centuries instead of just paving more roads to Oklahoma.

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Senate Passes Stimulus Bill: Here Are Some of the Clean Energy Provisions
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