WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump released the first budget blueprint of his new administration on Thursday, and it appears he’s held to his promise to build up the U.S. military while slashing domestic spending – even for programs that benefit the rural and lower-income Americans who voted for him last November.
The proposed $1.15 trillion “skinny” budget distills much of Trump’s sweeping campaign rhetoric into a set of hard choices and cold priorities. He is calling on Congress to boost defense spending by $54 billion, a move popular with many Republicans. A wall along the border with Mexico, a core campaign promise, would receive $4 billion to start construction.
Trump’s campaign promises to gut ineffective programs and shrink a bloated bureaucracy translated into a plan that cuts environmental protections programs, community development funding, housing vouchers, scientific research, a commission to create economic opportunities in Appalachia and other programs.
Funding for popular social services like Meals on Wheels, which provides food to the elderly, and after-school programs for children, also are on the chopping block. The outline – the start of negotiations with Congress – leaves untouched Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid spending.
Cuts that will impact his voting base in rural areas of the country include the elimination of funding to keep the Great Lakes clean, eliminating financial aid for rural and regional airports across the country, and flood insurance program funding.
EPA, GREAT LAKES CUTS
Trump proposes cutting the Environmental Protection Agency budget by 31 percent, from $8.3 billion in fiscal year 2017 to $5.7 billion in fiscal year 2018. That’s the largest cut among all Cabinet departments and major agencies.
The budget says that change, which would cut 3,200 EPA jobs, is needed “to ease the burden of unnecessary Federal regulations that impose significant costs for workers and consumers without justifiable environmental benefits.”
As part of the EPA cuts, the Trump budget eliminates the $300 million in annual funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which finances environmental projects all over the region. The initiative, created in 2010 with strong bipartisan support, has supported thousands of projects across the Great Lakes region. In December, the initiative’s funding was re-authorized by Congress.
TRUMP PROPOSES CUTS IN ARTS & HUMANITIES PROGRAMS
President Trump’s proposed budget calls for big cuts in a wide array of domestic programs — among them, agencies that fund the arts, humanities and public media.
Funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) would be cut to zero under the proposal, and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) would be eliminated entirely, the first time any president has proposed such a measure.
CPB received $445 million in federal funding in the last fiscal year; the NEA and NEH got about $148 million each — a tiny portion of the roughly $4 trillion federal budget.
Most CPB funds go directly to local radio and TV stations, but the federal funds are especially crucial for local stations, as well as local arts groups, which often receive matching funds from other donors based on their federal allocations.
Trump’s plan now goes to Congress, which can make changes before enacting federal budget legislation
REACTION FROM NY OFFICIALS
New York Senator and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with fellow NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand have both come out strongly against the budget.
Senator Schumer said the budget clearly shows that the president talks like a populist, but clearly is out to only help special interests, adding that democrats in the senate will emphatically oppose the spending plan.
Gillibrand also said the President’s budget is irresponsible and will short-change middle class New Yorkers, seniors, and students alike while doing harm to a fragile economy.
Meanwhile, Governor Andrew Cuomo called the proposed budget “dangerous, reckless, and contemptuous of American values, adding that should be rejected by Congress out of hand.”
And State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said the President’s budget threatens funding for vital services including housing assistance, environmental protection, anti-poverty programs and more.
He added that it provides little specific information regarding the impact of broadly proposed cuts, but it is clear this budget will hurt New Yorkers.
Congressman Tom Reed’s (R-Corning, NY 23) office didn’t release a statement on the budget, but the congressman is expected to address the issue during his weekly conference call with media on Tuesday, March 21.