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Can't buy me love?

Speaking of what I just posted about Paul Krugman's idiocy about domestic spending not having risen under Bush, I see this piece on that topic:

President Bush will seek a big increase in the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts, the largest single source of support for the arts in the United States, administration officials said on Wednesday.

[...]

Administration officials, including White House budget experts, said that Mr. Bush would propose an increase of $15 million to $20 million for the coming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. That would be the largest rise in two decades and far more than the most recent increases, about $500,000 for 2003 and $5 million for this year.

I'm not quite sure I get Bush's strategy here. Somehow I don't think the NEA -- even a noncontroversial version -- is a program near-and-dear to his heart. So why this proposal? Does he figure that he has already lost the deficit-hawk vote, so he might as well go all out to buy the votes of moderate swing-voters by funding every social program ever conceived of?

The one thing we can be sure of: even if it passes, Bush will never get credit for this among Democratic partisans. It doesn't matter how much additional money he spends; people like Paul Krugman come along to claim that it's not enough. (Indeed, if the NEA's budget increases by "only" $10 million, say, those partisans will claim that this announcement was just grandstanding and that Bush never lives up to his promises.) So I just don't get this. What does Bush hope to gain?


(By the way, isn't Disney, or one of the other media conglomerates, a larger "single source of support for the arts in the United States" than the NEA? Or does only art that nobody wants to watch count as art?)

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