Programs funding the arts, public broadcasting, civil rights, legal services for the poor, violence against women, civil rights enforcement and police salaries are all set for elimination or deep cuts
By Miriam Raftery
January 19, 2017 (Washington D.C.) – Donald Trump is preparing a budget that would “take an axe to government spending,” reports The Hill, an online news site specializing in capitol politics. The budget is based on plans from the conservative Heritage Foundation. It includes deep cuts or outright elimination of many cherished American institutions, as well as safety nets for the poor and elderly.
Only the military is not slated for deep budget cuts, though some cuts in military healthcare are proposed.
On the campaign trail, Trump pledged that he would protect Medicare and Social Security. But Mother Jones reports Medicare would be slashed 41%, Medicaid 47%, and Social Security 8% initially, plus raising retirement age and further reducing benefits by cutting inflation adjustments and other means.
The blueprint used by Trump’s team also calls for eliminating many programs at the Department of Justice including Violence Against Women grants and Community Oriented Policing Services, a major funding source for local police officers’ salaries and equipment nationwide.
Eliminating the Violence Against Women Grants “would come at the cost of women’s lives,” says Mariah Stidham Wineski, interim executive director at the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Marshall Project reports.
Funding would be reduced for enforcement of civil rights and for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources division.
It would also eliminate the Legal Services Corporation, a nonprofit funded by Congress to provide legal help to low-income people with civil (not criminal) problems ranging from assisting domestic violence victims to advising people in family custody, eviction and foreclosure cases.
Mother Jones reports cuts would include $5 billion in military health care, $28 billion in energy subsidies, $20 billion in funds for water and land conservation, $10 billion for jobs program under the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and $4 billion in the Federal Transit Administration—including complete elimination of the nation’s train service, AMTRAK.
Amid growing concerns about Trump’s attacks on mainstream media outlets, his budget team also reportedly aims to silence public media and put it under corporate control, privatizing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a public agency that runs the Public Broadcasting System (PBS, including the KPBS affiliate station in San Diego) and National Public Radio, or NPR.
The plan also calls for complete elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, which provide funding for arts groups ranging from theaters and symphonies to museums, historical projects, emerging artists and more.
Russ Vought and John Gray, two members of Trump’s transition team working on cuts in the White House budget office, both formerly worked for the Heritage Foundation.
State Department programs slated to be eliminated include the Paris Climate Change Agreement and United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, much to the dismay of scientists and environmentalists.
The budget calls for cutting federal spending by $10.5 trillion over a decade.
Historically, presidents nearly always get their budgets approved when their party controls both houses of Congress. Trump’s party, Republicans, currently have the majority in both the House and Senate, making it likely that many if not all of these extreme cuts could become law unless constituents who voted for the Republican majorities let their representatives know if they disapprove of specific cuts.