In his Inaugural address, President Trump promised to stop “the carnage,” but in his first budget he proposes carnage of a fiscal sort.
The president wants a $54 billion boost in defense spending and the money has to come from somewhere. His budget seeks to cut the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent. He also wants to cut valuable State Department programs such as “Food for Peace” that sends money to poor countries hit by war or natural disaster, and a program to subsidize flights to rural airports.
Also on the block are funds for Amtrak, public education, the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program in Housing and Urban Development that funds Meals on Wheels, among other popular programs.
It’s hard to know how much President Trump had to do with specifics, both because he’s not a “details guy” and he has few entrenched political beliefs. But the right-wing conservatives around the president are getting their way, cutting out funding for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities. As a result, there will be cuts at the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art.
Welcome, it might be said, to Trump World, where the ideology of the president’s advisers has topped good sense and even savvy political strategy in the name of keeping the president’s on-the-stump promises. Considering Trump’s penchant for stretching the truth, this sudden interest in keeping his word is quite a twist.
In North Carolina one budget cut proposed by the Trump administration would have likely serious consequences: Universities in North Carolina have gotten hundred of millions of dollars in research money over the years through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that has funded life-changing medical/scientific research. But Trump’s budget would cut the NIH by about 19 percent of its discretionary budget, or $5.8 billion.
Those who voted for Donald Trump because of his rhetoric about “draining the swamp” and his attacks on President Obama may reap the consequences of what happens when rhetoric becomes reality. Along with the losses to science and culture and medical advancement will come losses of jobs, of course, and research now in progress presumably will have to be halted.
Thankfully, the radical steps in Trump’s budget likely won’t be realized. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican, vowed that proposed State Department cut in the diplomatic corps and foreign aid would be “dead on arrival.” Americans can only hope that Sen. Graham and others also will turn their attention to protecting funding for other valuable things like public television, scientific research and arts programs.