President Trump unveiled his first budget proposal for how to fund the US government next year and the plan starkly reveals the top priorities of his administration.
The proposal, which Trump named “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” outlines how trillions of federal government dollars will be allocated for fiscal year 2018. The budget would give massive increases in spending to the US military and security agencies and dramatically slash funding for education, the environment and arts and sciences. The plan reflects the Trump administration’s aim of downsizing the US government, but also contains numerous proposals that contradict pledges made on the campaign trail.
The hard power focus of the current administration is evident with US Department of Defense funding to increase 10% for a total of USD 639 Billion in 2018. The Department of Homeland Security, which will oversee the construction of the border wall with Mexico, would receive a 7% budget boost. In order to fund these increases there would be steep cuts elsewhere. The State Department and US Agency for International Development, which use soft power to promote and protect American interests worldwide, would see a combined reduction in funds of 28%. The Environmental Protection Agency, which monitors and safeguards natural habitats across America, would take the hardest hit with over 30% less money and the complete defunding of dozens of programs and thousands of jobs. Other key government departments would also see cuts of double-digit percentage including Agriculture, Labor, Health & Human Services and Education.
Trump and his advisors have vowed to “drain the swamp” and pursue the “deconstruction of the administrative state,” but apparently this also applies to federal support for the arts and sciences. The proposed budget calls for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides millions of Americans with commercial-free and unbiased radio and TV channels, would also be reduced. Science research and development that has long made America prosperous and secure and enjoyed bipartisan support are slated for cuts, including programs that study everything from energy efficiency and renewable energy to coastal and marine research and education.
The president’s supporters may be in for a shock when they learn that campaign pledges can’t be kept with the proposed budget. Trump’s voting base in rural, small town communities could be affected by the elimination of programs that encourage economic growth in distressed areas such as the Appalachian Regional Commission and the [Mississippi] Delta Regional Authority. The working poor, many of whom voted for Trump, would see cuts to programs for affordable housing, home heating oil, job training and more. Trump’s pledge to eliminate disease will be difficult with funds to the National Institutes of Health cut by nearly 20%. Also, a promise to strengthen America’s infrastructure is contrasted by a recommendation to
eliminate USD 500 Million in road projects. Importantly, the proposed budget does nothing to reduce the national deficit, which is a key issue for many conservative Republican voters, as decreased funding to many agencies is offset by Trump’s huge increases for security forces.
The budget plan is preliminary at this point and a more comprehensive, detailed proposal is due to Congress in the coming months. There are already signals from top Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the administration’s budget will not be approved in its current form. Some political spectators believe that the proposal of big spending cuts may just be a political act to make it appear as though Trump is following through on his hard-line promises. Congress will have the final say on how the government distributes its money, but the proposed budget makes crystal clear that Trump intends to enact his agenda with the Almighty Dollar.