Fox News host Tucker Carlson discussed President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the national endowments for the arts with Robin Bronk, CEO of the Creative Coalition, on his show Friday, several times laughing and mocking her for reasons she said taxpayers need to continue funding the arts.
Trump’s proposed budget cuts $148 million from the NEA, which includes PBS and other public art initiatives.
“The NEA is in effect, welfare for rich, liberal elites,” Carlson began. “Why should taxpayers be subsidizing entertainment for rich people?”
Bronk pushed back on that point and said the NEA gives grants to every congressional district in the U.S., not just the liberal districts. She also explained that for every dollar invested by the NEA, the return is at least $10, despite only accounting for .001 percent of the federal budget.
She also alleged that NEA investments produce economic development.
“Cmon, ha ha ha, cmon,” Carlson said to Bronk’s statement. “Look, there are a lot of ways to fund economic development, but you can’t tell me this is the most efficient way.”
Carlson said he believes that rich billionaires in American should “pony up” to fund the arts programs, given that they’re the people who consume it.
Bronk said she doesn’t understand at all how anyone can advocate for cutting NEA funds, given that they help American institutions like, say, the military.
But Carlson wasn’t buying it.
“Let me ask you a question: What role did the NEA play, in say, the Battle of Fallujah,” Carlson asked, referencing the bloody battle in the early stages of the Iraq War.
Bronk was unable to give an answer, leading Carlson to burst out laughing.
“I mean, cmon, helps the military? Lets be real,” he said while laughing.
Toward the end of the interview, Carlson had one final question for Bronk: Why do artists want to become “puppets” of the government by taking its money to produce art.
“Don’t you think it’s kind of funny that artists who are ‘against the grain’ and ‘thinking for themselves,’ all of a sudden they’re queuing up for their handouts from taxpayers?” Carlson asked. “Why wouldn’t artists just strike out on their own and be independent?”
Bronk responded by saying that investing in arts makes America a first world power, which is why America must continue funding the NEA.
Watch the interview below: