Breaking down Trump’s budget

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget promises to raise defense spending by $54 billion without changing the dollar amount of the overall budget. Which seems promising at first glance,  however, the proposed budget requires cuts to important industries to support the shift in funds, which is, not surprisingly, problematic for already disadvantaged groups, such as the poor and the elderly.

The technical stuff

The budget proposed by President Trump proposed only makes changes to discretionary funding, leaving things like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, which are considered mandatory spending, untouched. Mandatory spending takes up 73 percent of the U.S. budget and discretionary spending makes up the other 27 percent.

Currently, the Department of Defense (DOD) already makes up about $590 million of the approximately $1.64 trillion discretionary budget. The new budget would add $54 million to the DOD bringing it up to approximately $644 million of the $1.64 trillion budget.

The majority of the money which will be shifted to the DOD will be taken from the EPA, the Department of Health and Human Services, the State Department, the Department of Education, the Department of Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Labor, the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior. Some money will also come from smaller programs such as the Program for Public Broadcasting, and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

The budget would bring increases to Veterans Affairs – a key campaign promise – and the Department of Homeland Security, which would be used to increase efforts to detain immigrants.

What does it mean?

The $54 billion that Trump plans to add to the military budget must come from somewhere. Within the budget, the administration makes cuts to agencies that it determines are “ineffective”.

Under this budget, the EPA and International Assistance Programs would be virtually nonexistent. Cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services would be mostly taken from the National Institute of Health – which plays an important part in biomedical research. The cuts would also affect programs like the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, which helps provide heating and air conditioning to poor families.

Cuts to the Department of Education would eliminate programs that help give college scholarships to the poor, federal work study programs and before and after school programs for low income students. It would eliminate programs like the 21st Century Community Learning Program which funds programs like the Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota.

Programs cut from the Department of Housing and Urban Development include Meals on Wheels and other programs designed to fight poverty. Cuts to the Department of Labor would follow a similar pattern in targeting disadvantaged populations and cutting programs designed to create jobs for seniors, young people and the general unemployed population. Cuts to the Department of the Interior cut funds from programs that support wildlife refuges and national heritage areas.

All of these cuts are important, however, cuts to the NEH and NEA hit closest to home for New College.

“If you’ve ever been to an arts show or an arts event. You may well have been riding on NEA funding and you wouldn’t know it because they give a lot of money out to groups and organizations […] the NEA is a very important and foundational place of support for pretty much all the organizations around the town,” Miriam Wallace, the chair of the Division of Humanities at New College, said.

The NEH has also funded research for New College professors. It has funded four fellowships for New College professors and provided grants for at least four seminars for professors.

Without the NEH it would be very hard for professors at New College to pursue work outside of their teaching careers. However, the budget would eliminate these two programs entirely.

It would also completely eliminate the Corporate Broadcasting System which supports public TV and radio and the Institute of Museum and Library services which includes programs like Bookshare, a program which provides books to those who are blind or have a disability which makes reading print difficult.

What’s next?

The proposed budget is what some call a “skinny budget”. If Trump sticks to tradition, he will expand upon the proposed budget later on this year. Then, the budget must be approved by congress before it can become policy. And even with Trump’s majority Republican congress, this will be no easy feat.

The proposed budget makes cuts to programs which alienate much of his voter base, such as Appalachian commission and the Delta Regional Authority, which serves eight Southern and Midwestern states, seven of them with Republican governors. It also goes against some of Trump’s campaign promises, such as his promise to rebuild infrastructure, by instead making cuts to infrastructure spending.

With that being said, it is unlikely that the proposed budget will make it past Congress in its current form – especially paired with his tax plan. However, it is important to let your representatives know if you do not approve of Trump’s proposed budget, because they are the ones that will be working to rewrite and revise it.

You can contact our local representative, Vern Buchanan, with your concerns at: (941) 747 – 9081. Or visit or write to his office at 1051 Manatee Ave W #305.

The proposed budget can be viewed at whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/budget/fy2018/2018_blueprint.pdf

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