Sen. Barbara Boxer recently claimed that House Republicans are intent on stripping funding for government-supported entertainment because they have a "vendetta against Elmo." (They may. After two years of living with a Tickle Me Elmo doll, I certainly do.) Does anyone believe that the marketplace wouldn't or couldn't provide sufficiently irritating Muppet programming for the millions of kids without the government's help? As anyone who purchases basic cable television knows, the demand for newscasts, kids shows, documentaries, nature programs, etc., is amply met.
The function and purpose of government has been rather expansive over the past few decades. Do we really believe that providing tax subsidies for entertainment and journalism is one of the charges of government? The argument may have held up in the past, but in today's world, it simply doesn't.