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Feingold: Radio, TV Martí Are ‘Wasteful’

Ending their broadcasts could save $300 million over 10 years, says Democrat

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., wants to eliminate what he calls wasteful government spending. He’s introduced a bill, the Control Spending Now Act, that he says will reduce the deficit by over a half trillion dollars over a decade. Currently, the deficit stands at $1.42 trillion, according to the senator.

The first of 40 items Feingold has targeted for elimination, representing a potential $300 million in savings over 10 years, are Radio and TV Martí.

Originating in 1983 under President Reagan with the intention of hindering Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, Radio Martí is a U.S.-funded, 24-hour radio program directed at Cuba. In 1990, TV Martí was established for the same purposes. Radio and TV Martí are run by the Office of Cuba Broadcasting under the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees U.S. government broadcasting.

A January report by the Government Accountability Office found that the Cuban government still jams the broadcasts aired by Radio and TV Martí. “According to the GAO, the best available research suggests that the audience for Radio and TV Martí is small, and its effectiveness uncertain,” Feingold states on his Web site.

The senator says the political environment has changed significantly since the inception of the Martís, and “President Obama’s commitment to international diplomacy and dialogue offers a more effective way to engage with the people of Cuba.”

Among the more than 40 targets of “wasteful spending” in Feingold’s bill are a $244.5 billion in deficit reduction by ending the Wall Street Bailout and a $50 billion in deficit reduction by allowing the reimportation of FDA-approved prescription drugs.