While Exploding Military Spending, Trump Budget Eviscerates Funding for EPA, Healthcare and More
By Julia Conley
Nearly two dozen federal programs and agencies are in danger of losing funding under President Donald Trump's 2019 budget proposal, released Monday. The proposed cuts will potentially result in drastic changes to social welfare programs and other government efforts to improve the lives of working people across the country as well as those in impoverished nations.
While programs heralded by progressives may be in peril, the budget calls for a 13 percent increase in spending by the military, up from the Pentagon's 2017 level of spending. The president is asking for $686 billion in defense spending—$80 billion more than the Pentagon currently receives for its bloated and unaccountable budget.
"When our nation can't manage to turn the lights on for the people of Puerto Rico, when we can't help those suffering from opioid addiction get treatment, and when we can't ensure education and healthcare to all of our citizens, how is it possible we can justify spending billions more on weapons that don't work to fight enemies that don't exist?" said Stephen Miles, head of the peace group Win Without War in a statement last week, ahead of the budget release.
Below are some of the initiatives that the president is asking Americans to sacrifice while ramping up military spending.
International Reproductive Health Aid
As part of the anti-choice global gag order the president reinstated to bar health organizations that rely on federal funding from providing abortion care and counseling, the administration is requesting new investments in family planning efforts, "with an emphasis on evidence-based methods, including fertility awareness"—suggesting funding for contraceptives in impoverished countries will be slashed.
"This budget confirms that Trump and his cronies in his White House of ill-repute are hell-bent on substituting religious dogma for evidence and that the gratuitous cruelty of their first year can be expected in the second as well," said Brian Dixon of the Population Connection Action Fund.
Department of Education (DOE)
The president is requesting a 10.5 percent decrease in funding for the DOE. The budget would eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and reduce the number of income-based loan repayment plans offered. Meanwhile, more than $1 billion would be spent on private school vouchers, charter schools and other initiatives that shift funding away from public schools.
The president is proposing eliminating federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the non-profit which helps finance PBS and NPR, over a two-year period.
The budget cut would likely be rebuked by much of the U.S. population. On Monday PBS released the results of a survey that found that Americans ranked the organization as the number-one most trusted public institution in the country.
"PBS, our 350 member stations and our legions of local supporters will continue to remind leaders in Washington of the significant benefits the public receives in return for federal funding, a modest investment of about $1.35 per citizen per year," PBS President Paula Kerger said in a statement.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The president's budget proposal would bring funding for the EPA to its lowest level since 1990, with a 34 percent reduction in spending from 2017. Funding cuts for climate change research, the Environmental Education Program, and programs that protect American waters from pollution are among those that will be made.
"President Trump's budget is nothing short of devastating for all Americans who value clean air, safe drinking water and protected public lands," said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement. "Congress must reject it, and instead invest in a cleaner, safer, and more prosperous future for everyone."
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Under the proposed budget, the Trump administration would cut the budget for SNAP benefits by about 27 percent and would dictate the food that low-income households are able to purchase using the benefits, also known as food stamps. About half of a family's monthly benefits would come in the form of a box of pre-selected food, including "shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit and vegetables," according to the budget.
"They have managed to propose nearly the impossible, taking over $200 billion worth of food from low-income Americans while increasing bureaucracy and reducing choices," Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, told NPR.
Medicare and Medicaid
Hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid are also included in the budget. On social media, critics summed up the president's plan as consistent with the tax law he signed in December—with sacrifices coming from working families as the wealthy benefit.
"Donald Trump has proposed a federal budget that steals from working families to pay for his massive $1.5 trillion tax cut that largely benefits the wealthy and big corporations," said Frank Clemente, executive director for Americans for Tax Fairness, in a statement. "He's taking away health care from seniors, food from families, college loans for the next generation, and support for people with disabilities to benefit the fortunate few."
To the extent the proposals reach Congress, Clemente added, lawmakers "should reject the Trump budget and create a tax system that makes the rich and corporations pay their fair share so we can invest in all Americans, not take from them."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled Natural Resources Defense Council.