By Rhea Suh
It may sound like green eyeshades stuff, but the massive budget proposal the White House sends up to Congress each February is a kind of road map to our future. It's the president's plan for spending taxpayer dollars to advance his priorities and goals.
President Trump's proposal landed with a thud Monday on Capitol Hill, where it should be dead on arrival. It calls for a record $4.4 trillion in spending for the fiscal year that begins in October. It would spike the federal budget deficit, adding $7.1 trillion to the national debt in the coming decade. And it would eviscerate environmental and health protections, stifle clean energy research, raid our public waters and lands, and abandon our children to the growing dangers of climate change.
That's the road map to a future none of us wants to see.
Americans believe in responsible public oversight to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the world we'll leave our children. An overwhelming 85 percent expect our federal government to do more to protect our environment or at least maintain existing protections.
That means fewer people to monitor air and water quality; enforce our laws; and work with lawmakers, local businesses, public advocates and others to respond to emerging threats. Trump would cut by half, for example, the EPA work we all depend on to protect human health and the environment from cancer-causing radiation in our drinking water, indoor air, and industrial facilities. You don't strengthen environmental protections by taking the environmental steward off the beat.
And for what? The $1.9 billion Trump wants to cut from EPA spending is barely one-tenth what he wants taxpayers to fork out over the next two years to build his "great wall" to divide us from our Mexican neighbors, pure folly that more than six in ten Americans oppose.
Trump's assault on environmental protection, though, is part of a larger scheme to put profits for fossil fuel companies and other polluters first—and put the rest of us at risk. He calls for a 16 percent cut in funding for the U.S. Department of the Interior, which is charged with overseeing our national parks, wilderness areas, and other public waters and lands. Those cuts would eliminate thousands of employees that implement vital programs essential to the conservation of lands that belong to you and me.
Trump's budget, meanwhile, would add spending needed to expose special places to the hazards and harm of oil and gas drilling. Places like the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah; the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska; and Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, and Alaskan waters and parts of the Gulf of Mexico.
Trump calls for a 65 percent cut in the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office at the U.S. Department of Energy. This office helps us do more with less waste in our cars, workplaces and homes and helps us get more clean, homegrown American power from the wind and sun, which more than seven in ten Americans favor over coal, oil and gas.
He's also proposed eliminating the successful Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy. Over the past decade, the program has invested between $180 million and $306 million a year in promising new energy technologies that can help clean up our dirty power plants, for example, provide cleaner fuels for our cars and trucks, and help make our electricity grid more efficient.
For that matter, Trump's budget would put energy efficiency out of reach for millions of low-income Americans by eliminating the popular Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Energy Department's Weatherization Assistance program.
Finally, Trump wants to turn his back on the central environmental challenge of our time, eliminating $160 million in investments through the Global Climate Change Initiative, which enables U.S. diplomats and aid experts to help developing countries find cleaner, smarter ways to power economic growth.
Trump's budget isn't a road map to the future. It's a blueprint for destruction that balloons the deficit, puts our environment and health at growing risk, and leaves our kids to pay the price.
The country deserves better than that―and so do our children.