President Donald Trump’s latest budget proposal is slated to upend the nation’s priorities by siphoning billions of dollars to national defense while slashing much-needed funding to programs for foreign aid, government assistance and the environment.
The budget, which will end up in the hands of Congress on Thursday, March 16, would fulfill the president’s campaign promise of “draining the swamp” by severing a large chunk of the federal workforce. His government spending ideas, however, are expected to receive much push back from both Democrats and Republicans who feel that his proposed spending cuts are a bit too hasty, and even reckless.
For one, Trump’s budget would cut the Environmental Protection Agency by a whopping 31 percent, significantly rolling back its roster of nearly 15,000 employees. The EPA would get hit in the pockets, too, as the president seeks to slash the agency’s $8.2 billion budget by $2 billion.
“When I hear we are considering making cuts to grant programs like the [environmental justice] small grants or Collaborative Problem Solving programs, which have assisted over 1,400 communities, I wonder if our new leadership has had the opportunity to converse with those who need our help the most,” wrote Mustafa Ali, a senior adviser for the EPA who resigned earlier this month amid the Trump administration’s plans to ax the environmental justice department completely.
Like the EPA, the State Department would be slashed by 28 percent and the Department of Health and Human Services by 17.9 percent, according to The New York Times. Federal funding for smaller programs like the Legal Services Corporation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment of the Arts, among others, would be cut entirely.
Trump’s “America First” budget” doesn’t stop there, however.
The president seeks to reduce funding to the Department of Agriculture by $4.7 billion by making cuts to the National Forest System and gutting loan/grant programs for water and sewage systems, The New York Times reported. His budget, however, would provide $6.2 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which aids low-income families, and wouldn’t make cuts to the Food and Safety Inspection Service.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department would take a $4 billion hit, even amid Trump’s promises to ramp up efforts around immigration law enforcement. The cuts would include reduced funding to programs like the Crime Victims Fund and also prison construction.
In the area of commerce, Trump’s budget would eliminate both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s programs for coastal and marine management, and the Minority Business Development Agency, which provides aid to minority-owned businesses.
The Department of Education would take a huge hit in the form of a $9.2 billion decrease in funding, a move by President Trump that seemingly backs the school choice agenda pushed by contested Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
While the proposed budget provides a $1.4 million increase for public and private school choice programs, it would eliminate funding for out-of-school time programs. Funding for work-study programs also would be severely reduced, while the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant for college students in need of financial aid would be axed completely. Money to historically Black colleges and universities would remain the same.
A little over $4 billion would be cut from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, now headed by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Trump’s problematic budget would get rid of the Community Development Block Grant Program, one of HUD’s oldest programs that funds anti-poverty programs and affordable housing. According to Trump, the program, “is not well-targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results.”
“Once again, the Trump administration is showing its true colors: talk like a populist but govern like a special-interests zealot,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, said in a statement. “The very programs that most help the middle class are those that get clobbered the hardest: investments in infrastructure, education, scientific research that leads to cures for diseases all take big hits.”
Thursday’s draft budget, also known as the “skinny budget,” only represents the top lines for departments and agencies and still must be approved by Congress, which has leeway to alter the approval process. The Trump administration is expected to release its full budget, complete with economic and tax projections, in May.
The White House is aiming to have Congress adopt a plan before the new fiscal year begins at the end of September, but too many lawmakers, especially Republicans, have already voiced opposition to the budget. The president’s plan essentially hails defense spending and homeland security as top priority while throwing a number of vital and necessary government programs to the wayside.
For one, the Department of Defense would enjoy a $52.3 billion boost in funding while the Department of Homeland Security would receive a extra $2.8 billion to hire more border patrol guards, employ additional detention center staff and, of course, build the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Trump’s proposed budget even includes a request for $1.5 billion as the first installment payment for his promised wall and then another installment of $2.26 billion for 2018.
Trump’s plan is currently under the review of Congress, but sweeping changes are expected to make its provisions more agreeable for both Democrats and Republicans.