Ben Adler at The Atlantic:
In their search to find programs upon which to rest the complaint that the stimulus bill is too generous, some conservatives have seized upon one of their favorite whipping boys: the arts. "Even [House Republicans] can't quite believe it... $50 million for that great engine of job creation, the National Endowment for the Arts," declared Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana).
Pence intended to be ironic about the NEA's role as an engine of economic activity. But he could have been sincere, since his comments were right on the money. Arts are actually a great form of economic investment, particularly public art, and they should be amply funded in the stimulus package. Every year nonprofit arts organizations generate $166.2 billion in economic activity, support 5.7 million jobs, and send almost $30 billion back to government, according to Americans for the Arts. There is hardly a person more likely to go out and spend her stimulus check than a starving artist.