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Republican Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho, chairman of the House subcommittee that funds the arts, told supporters he believes a majority in Congress supports preserving funding. Still, some believe the government simply shouldn’t fund the arts at all.

Democratic Rep. James Moran of Virginia said the government is buying a single fighter jet that costs as much as the entire annual budget of the National Endowment for the Arts, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. He said the government is buying hundreds of them.

“We are not a poor country. We are a wealthy country, but our real power comes from the power of our ideas,” he said “This is not about saving money. This is ideological.”

Spacey also has publicly opposed a recently announced 30 percent cut to arts funding in Britain, where he serves as artistic director of London’s Old Vic Theatre. He said the cuts taking full effect by 2015 would devastate hundreds of arts groups.

The British government should change its tax laws, Spacey said, and use the U.S. model of providing tax breaks for charitable donations to help fill the gap left by cuts in public funding.