In recent years, leaders in both parties — including, in some cases, presidents from both parties — have singled out these four programs, worth a total of about $337 million, to either be eliminated or lose millions in funding. But they have survived, again and again, thanks to powerful lobbies or high-placed patrons in Congress. Even this year, after Congress cut $38 billion from the budget, they live on…

Among the survivors this year was the East-West Center, a Hono­lulu nonprofit that has long been one of the budget’s great immortals.

The center runs exchange programs for U.S. and Asian journalists and young professionals, conducts research and offers scholarships to study at the University of Hawaii. For 2010, President Obama’s budget proposed reducing its federal funding from $21 million to $12 million, arguing that this would encourage the center to seek other sources for money.

That went nowhere.

The center has a powerful ally in Congress: Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Instead of shrinking by millions, the center’s subsidy went up by $2 million.