The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Zach Lowe (202) 224-8657

Feingold Launches 'Spotlight on Spending' Series

Regular Feature to Highlight Ways Congress Can Cut Wasteful Spending, Reduce Record Deficit Begins With Feature on $300 Million for a Broadcast to Cuba that Nobody Tunes In To


Today, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, a member of the Senate Budget
Committee, announced the launch of his "Spotlight on Spending"
series to highlight actions Congress can take to reduce the deficit. The items
Feingold is highlighting are included in his Control Spending Now Act,
legislation made up of more than forty individual proposals to reduce the
deficit by more than one half trillion dollars. The series will involve
regularly highlighting one of the specific provisions in his bill to detail how
it could help reduce the nation's deficit, which is currently $1.42
trillion. Among the more than 40 deficit-reducing provisions in
Feingold's Control Spending Now Act are:

  • $244.5
    billion in deficit reduction by ending the Wall Street Bailout
  • $50
    billion in deficit reduction by allowing the reimportation of FDA-approved
    prescription drugs
  • $4
    billion in deficit reduction by cutting C-17 aircrafts the Department of
    Defense does not want
  • $1.8
    billion in deficit reduction by ending an IRS slush fund

The first featured provision is the elimination of the Radio and TV Marti program:


Million for a Broadcast to Cuba That Nobody Tunes In

Spotlight on Spending: Radio and TV

Deficit Reduction: $300 million over ten years

"This relic of the Cold War attempts to broadcast radio and TV signals
into Cuba that virtually no one tunes in to," Feingold said.
"Government studies show that Radio and TV Marti
are riddled with problems, and fall short of journalistic standards. As
we progress toward a more modern and constructive relationship with Cuba, Radio
and TV Marti no longer have any real
diplomatic or fiscal purpose. I plan to bring up this issue when the
Senate takes up President Obama's recently announced
to the Broadcasting Board of Governors. "

What it is: Launched in 1983 under President Reagan with the intention
of helping take down Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, Radio Marti is a U.S.-funded, 24-hour radio program directed at Cuba.
In 1990, TV Marti was established for the same
purposes. Radio and TV Marti are operated by
the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) under the Broadcasting Board of Governors
(BBG), which oversees U.S. government broadcasting.

Why it is wasteful: The Radio and TV Marti
programs are wasteful for reasons both operational and political.

A January 2009 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that
Radio and TV Marti broadcasts face jamming by
the Cuban government. According to the GAO, the best available research
suggests that the audience for Radio and TV Marti
is small, and its effectiveness uncertain. BBG's International
Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) also found that Radio Marti
fails to meet certain journalistic standards, "particularly in the areas
of balance and objectivity."

During a June 2009 hearing before a House Foreign Affairs Subcommitee, a GAO
official testified that there is "limited information to help assess the
relative success on a return of investment for each of the transmission
methods." During the same hearing, John Nichols, a Professor of
Communications and International Affairs at Penn State University testified
that "...even if (Cubans) are opposed to the Castro
government...they are going to look for more credible sources of
information and entertainment."

The political environment has changed significantly since the inception of
Radio and TV Marti, and President
Obama's commitment to international diplomacy and dialogue offers a more
effective way to engage with the people of Cuba. The Obama administration has
already loosened restrictions on Cuban Americans' visits to Cuba, and the White
House and Congress are considering easing travel restrictions and other ways to
normalize relations.