You say you are a Christian, but neither tithe nor have a church home. You say support civil rights, but have no connection to a civil rights organization. You love your alma mater, but never contribute to the place. Put your money where your mouth is.
Budgets are reflections of values. Thus, I was unsurprised with the budget No. 45 proposed to Congress on Feb. 10.
His budget cuts domestic programs, maintains defense spending and targets poor people. It cuts education, housing, and environmental protection. It would eliminate our art and cultural agencies, including the National Institute for the Arts, the National Institutes for Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Forty-five’s hostility to poor people is reflected in reductions in Medicaid, food stamps, and the CHIP program, which provides health care for poor children. And while he is starving poor people, he insists on preserving the 2017 tax cuts that mostly benefitted the wealthy.
I’m not surprised that No. 45 maintains his hostility to the poor. We’ve seen this in the previous budgets that he’s presented to Congress. He favors cuts in domestic spending, increases in military spending, a wall (which he has directed the Pentagon to fund), and indifference to the environment.
The budget shows contempt for the planet and its survival. No. 45 would cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by more than a quarter and even more with environmental initiatives that are embedded in other budgets. For example, his budget cuts the Transportation Department by 13 percent, cutting highway infrastructure programs and transit grants. The Department of Interior is proposed to shoulder a 13 percent cut, reducing land acquisition, conservation, and assistance for Native American tribes.
Until 2017, the world looked to America for global leadership, but this most recent budget would reduce our involvement in world affairs. The State Department and USAID would be cut by $12 billion – more than a fifth less than last year. Virtually everything in the USAID and State budgets is reduced, including humanitarian aid, contributions to international organizations, and cultural exchanges; only Ivanka Trump’s Women’s Global Development fund seems to have been protected, with its allocation doubling!
Concern or Pandering?
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs is the only Cabinet agency that will experience a double-digit budget increase of 12 percent. After a series of scandals involving the delivery of health service to the nation’s veterans, few would dispute the need for a stronger agency. But one wonders if the $12 billion increase in this agency’s budget will improve efficiency, or if it is merely pandering to veterans – a core part of the President’s base.
NASA is another agency that gets a double-digit budget increase, partly to fund space exploration. The Defense Department budget remains relatively flat, with an increase at just one-tenth of one percent. The budget is generous enough, however, to purchase new nuclear warheads and new missiles. It also will fund an arms race with China and Russia.
What if just a tenth of the “defense” budget were devoted to human needs? That would be $70 billion to, perhaps, restore the $9.5 billion Health and Human Services cut, restore the $5.6 billion Department of Education cuts, to restore the $1.3 billion cut to the Labor Department. (“Savings” will be realized by cutting unemployment insurance and payments to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, among other programs.) That $70 billion could also restore the $1.9 billion cut from the Agriculture Department.
Few in our warmongering nation would have the nerve to cut the defense budget. Predatory capitalism and the war-industrial complex will keep our “defense” department in business, with companies that manufacture nuclear warheads, missiles, and more, raking in record profits.
This administration is hostile to poor folks, to culture, to education, and to farmers. It is unwilling to spend money on international relations. It is willing to continue to reward the wealthy for just being wealthy.
But there’s good news. Congress has failed to pass No.45’s budget in the past, and they probably won’t pass it this time either. With a Democratic majority in the House, human needs will likely have a higher priority. It won’t cut State and USAID budgets.
It’s a good thing Congress has more of a conscience than the president does.
Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer.
Her latest book, “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy,” is available at www.juliannemalveaux.com.