President Trump’s recently unveiled budget further clarifies his vision for this great country. It’s a dark one.
It’s a nation where even more Americans are hungry; where they, after breathing freely for decades now become reacquainted with smog; where a high-quality public education, especially for low- and middle-income kids, is further out of reach — but Trump loves the “poorly educated,” right?; where way fewer of these same families will get help paying the rent; and getting from Point A to Point B just got harder.
And there’s so much more for which the president plans to appropriate far less.
Remember, this is the Great Negotiator’s opening gambit. All presidents make them. In his first preliminary budget, President Obama dinged the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services. In his, George W. Bush gave Transportation, Agriculture and Justice less.
What distinguishes Trump’s budget is just how deep the gouges go: A full third of the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget is gone; the State Department, including many of its critical development programs, has 29 percent shorn away. Agriculture, 21 percent. Justice, 20 percent. Education, 14 percent — but with more money for charter schools and vouchers. And gone is funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Legal Services.
Stunning, too, is the degree to which the administration, again, dismisses fact, makes no distinction between an agency’s fat — which most surely should be trimmed — and its muscle; and fails to think critically by connecting the dots between funds well-spent — invested, really — and our security.
Trump not only loves the uneducated, as he crowed to a cheering crowd after winning the Nevada caucuses a year ago, he seems to have a warm spot in his heart for the unfed, the uncultured, the unhealthy, the unsheltered and the unprotected. He must because his vision creates so many of them.
Sadder still, is that so many of these cuts will do damage to so many of the people he persuaded to vote for him: the low-income, the unemployed, the chronically sick and under-housed. Though the president’s increases for training programs for disabled Americans deserve praise, his cutbacks in job training programs for seniors, perhaps unable to retire, but thrust into the job market; disadvantaged youth — and they don’t all live in inner cities, but in rural areas, too; and the out-of-work are headscratchers. Who’s going to fill all those jobs he’s promised to restore? And independent studies show Meals on Wheels, also on the chopping block, is extremely effective at providing isolated seniors nutrition and socialization.
Congressional Democrats, of course, are howling in opposition like the minority party that they are. And it’s dawned on congressional Republicans that many of the people who voted for Trump are also their constituents. They need to hone their negotiating skills if they are to have any hope of saving their own political skins, to say nothing of Meals on Wheels.
Many Republicans have already flagged some of the Draconian cuts as dead on arrival. Trump is prepared to make good on his campaign promises. This budget is his starting hand. Jittery Republicans need to find the spine to ensure that they, and the rest of America, don’t get cruelly trumped.