By Ridgley Knapp
Every Republican budget is bound to have parts we, as Democrats, will object to and parts we will be in favor of. The same goes for the reverse scenario. The Trump 2018 budget is no different.
Let us begin with the positives, according to a handy Washington Post infographic. The Department of Veterans Affairs will see a 6 percent increase in funding in order to modernize its information services and help more of those who have fought to protect this country. Good. The HHS will see more funding for fighting the opioid crisis ravaging the Rust Belt. Awesome. The FBI, by way of the DoJ, will receive more federal funds for firearm background checks. Incredible. Even the dreaded California Liberals will be happy to know the Interior is slated to have an increase in funds dedicated to fighting wildfires. These are increases in the budget that need to occur, no one will disagree.
And then we read on.
In order to increase funding to Defense, the DHS, and the VA, the Teflon Don proposes to cut funding to: the Departments of State, Agriculture, Labor, HHS, Commerce, Education, HUD, Transportation, Interior, Treasury, and Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Small Business Administration, and NASA.
Nineteen federal agencies, including the Appalachian Regional Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (PBS and NPR), and the U.S. Institute of Peace, are to be cut entirely. Gone.
Okay, so it’s bad. But how bad? Let’s dive into some specifics.
$200 million cut from Women, Infants, and Children nutritional assistance
$3.7 billion cut from teacher training and after-school programs
A “SIGNIFICANT” cut to federal work-study for college students
An elimination of Meals-on-Wheels funding because it “doesn’t work”.
And, naturally, American (not Mexican) funding for one Trump-brand Wall
Is all hope lost? Maybe not.
Democrats’ best friends in fighting against this budget will come from two groups they are not historically or recently friendly with: Republicans, and rural voters.
The National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities have survived assaults in the past, first by Ronald Reagan in 1981, and again by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in 1994, yet they’re still here. Today, several Republicans are willing to stand for the continuation of federal arts funding. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a state that has received more than $18 million in federal artistic grants since 1995, said in a statement, “I believe we can find a way to commit to fiscal responsibility while continuing to support the important benefits that N.E.A. and N.E.H. provide.”
The Appalachian Regional Commission, which “traces its roots to West Virginia”, will also face significant opposition in its elimination. In 2015, the ARC was reauthorized by a bipartisan bill sponsored originally by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Sen. Manchin (D-WV), who, though having stoked much ire on the left, is unlikely to follow along with the President on the elimination of this agency.
If only there was a way to somehow, someway, give the federal government a little more cash. A way without raising taxes, without cutting programs.
As the Independent reports, if Pres. Trump were to stop golfing every opportunity he took and stopped spending so much time at his precious “Southern White House” (oops, wrong link), he would save the federal government SIX HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS over the next four years. That’s $600,000,000, slightly above the $597 million spent on the National Endowment for the Arts ($152m), the US Interagency Council on Homelessness ($4m), the Senior Community Service Employment Program ($434m), and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars ($11m).
That’s right: just by living where the President of the United States is meant to live, Trump could prevent cutting funding to the arts, student grants, senior citizens, and the homeless. But heaven forbid, that wouldn’t be “compassionate”.
Perhaps the proposed increase in defense spending is necessary, as the Washington Post recently ran a piece with the headline: “Tillerson says diplomacy with North Korea has ‘failed’; Pyongyang warns of war”. So there’s that.
For more, there’s always Last Week Tonight.