To: Members of the American Historical Association
From: Bill Cronon, President
Jim Grossman, Executive Director
On Wednesday, June 20, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee approved a $132 million appropriation for the National Endowment for the Humanities for fiscal year 2013. This represents a 9.6% reduction from the FY 2012 level of $146 million, which itself represented a decline of 7.6% from the previous year. In the broader context that we historians consider significant, the NEH budget was $172 million in 1995, and is approximately one-third of its level three decades ago when adjusted for inflation.
We realize that these are tough times for the federal budget. And we respect the variety of opinions that our members hold on such complex issues as fiscal policy, taxation, and other aspects of public revenue and expenditure. But we also think it is useful and appropriate for members of the American Historical Association to remind our representatives of the importance of the humanities in public culture. This includes research, education, public programs, and the preservation of the materials that establish our link to the past.
The reduction voted by the Subcommittee would be devastating to the NEH given its already lean operations. But it would have virtually no impact on the deficit. Here's the arithmetic: we are asking our representatives to increase federal expenditures by a factor of 1/147,000 over the Subcommittee's recommendation.
Please contact your Representative today to urge support for the humanities. In practical terms, this means opposing cuts to the NEH. The National Humanities Alliance, of which the AHA is an active member, is urging Congress to provide no less than $154.3 million for NEH in FY 2013, the same level requested by the President.
The NEH accounts for only 1/21,000th of the total federal budget. Yes that's right: we would like every American next year to spend fifty cents on the humanities. We think it's a pretty good deal.
You can send a customizable electronic message from the online action center of the National Humanities Alliance.