And How About That Budget?

Once upon a time, when self-righteous folks made speeches about their deep levels of concern about this or that issue, skeptical listeners would respond by telling the speaker to “put your money where your mouth is.” That rejoinder reflected a widely-held recognition that talk is cheap—that a person’s real priorities could only be determined by examining the level at which one “walked the walk,” including where a person put his or her money.

There are many differences between government budgets and personal ones, but there is also one undeniable similarity: you can determine governments’ priorities by following the money, by seeing what measures and programs public officials want to fund—or defund.

For example, the GOP’s persistent efforts to defund Planned Parenthood are entirely consistent with its belief that male dominance should take priority over women’s health.

Donald Trump has sent his preferred budget to Congress, which will have the last word on expenditures, and we can be sure that the budget that emerges (assuming one does) will differ significantly from its current form. That said, there is significant Republican support for the President’s priorities in this Congress, and those priorities should appall anyone who actually cares about poor or middle-class Americans–or the future of the planet.

The President is advocating enormous increases for America’s already bloated defense budget, at the expense of widely valued programs like the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Legal Services, the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, and Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, among many others.

The Corporation for National and Community Service promotes volunteerism in distressed communities, and provides college stipends for those who serve those communities. Legal Services—already inadequately funded—provides critically important legal assistance to people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer to fight predatory lenders and slum landlords, get divorced, or access Medicaid and Medicare, food stamps and other benefits to which they are entitled.

Much sarcasm is generated by the periodic efforts to “save Big Bird,” but public broadcasting and the Endowments for the Arts and Humanities bring unbiased news, cultural events and civic conversations to citizens who would not otherwise have the opportunity to explore those perspectives.

It’s hard to look at this budget without seeing a deliberate effort to kick people when they’re already down,an effort to further impoverish the people who are most disadvantaged by depriving them of everything from legal assistance, to heat in the winter, to educational entertainment.

Trump’s proposed budget also cuts funding to the Environmental Protection Agency by nearly a third; and eliminates support for climate change research as “a waste of taxpayer money.”

It is difficult to understand this Administration’s wholesale rejection of science and climate change as anything other than a cynical subsidy to the bottom lines of fossil fuel companies. The environmental dangers of this assault have been widely discussed, but its cynical subtext has not: the effects of environmental degradation will fall first—and hardest–on poor Americans.

Flint, Michigan is hardly the only disadvantaged community with contaminated water.

Nor would polluted water be the only likely result of the savage cuts to EPA programs: there is likely to be a return of the smog and poor air quality that once characterized our urban areas, and fewer efforts to eliminate lead in the soil and house paint in older, more deteriorated neighborhoods.

This budget rewards the privileged with tax credits while waging war on the people least well-equipped to fight. It is an exercise in cruelty, not to mention stupidity—a short-term political map to long-term disaster.

Following the money in this budget leads directly to dystopia.

 

 

 

 

15 thoughts on “And How About That Budget?

  1. I couldn’t agree more with Prof’s assessment. We seem to be at the threshold of Idiocracy.

  2. They seem hell bent on eliminating all of the so-called ‘unworthy’ citizens in our country – the hard working middle class, formerly middle class and poor.

  3. Why won’t the Dems state they obvious? THIS IS AN ATTACK ON NATIONAL SECURITY. These priorities will ultimately make us weaker and weaker, until we are unable to provide for the defense to which we have become accustomed. These increases in current defense spending are not an investment in anything — they are a looting of the treasury. Security in the long run is provided by our the productive capacity of the country, which depends on the health, mental and physical, of the people, and the robustness of the society in general. This is greed gone mad, old men saying to us, “if we can’t take it with us, we will burn it to the ground on the way out.” This is a murder-suicide.

    Where are the Democrats with the guts to call out this treason?

  4. I believe the proposed budget also removes a big chunk of State Department funding. Forget diplomacy, forget peace, let’s build more war machines. Let’s see what kind of additional wars we can get ourselves into. 45 is itching to get into it with North Korea, and escalate things in the Middle East. We’ve got millions of (expendable) poor and middle class people we can draft to fight them. The president likes Purple Hearts. He always wanted one, but without having to “walk the walk” of course. Maybe he can collect some more from the new crop of battle heros he’s going to cultivate. Of course that doesn’t include his kids – they’re far too valuable to put in harms way. Am I being too cynical here?

  5. We’ve been on a path (both democrats and republicans) on rewarding the rich at the expense of everyone else. It’s called Neoliberalism and it began with Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher.

    Remember “trickle-down economics”? Every single president since Reagan has done exactly the same thing, including Democrats, the party of Wall Street protected by the Deep State. Follow their campaign donations as well. 😉

    Our lone Democratic in Washington voted against a “drug importation” bill because of his lucrative donations from Eli Lilly. He doesn’t care about the disadvantaged – he cares about campaign donations because, without them, he’s no longer a senator.

    The next point is how many of the do-gooder Democrats support getting money out of politics? Where is the wholesale outrage by Democratic Reps?

    We have a Kleptocracy. The only monied interests divergent on this 40-year policy is Libertarians financially supported by the Koch brothers. I would say they have engulfed the GOP by controlling 23-24 states and over half of Washington. Those who haven’t succumbed are lining up to kiss Koch boots. 😉

    You’ll have to abandon your loyalty to D’s to see they are all water carriers for Wall Street which is not interested in Main Street.

  6. Those who have dreamed of getting rid of those pesky regulations will now get their wish. America will be great again, just like it was in the 50s. The air will be unbreathable, the water undrinkable. Our food and our medicine might just kill us. Our low-lying communities, like Liberty City in Miami, will be permanently underwater. We might need a new Upton Sinclair to point out the dangers in terms that will frighten even a President. But we will have 45, who doesn’t read and who won’t understand the level of devastation he has embraced.

  7. Over it; “the Democrats with guts to call out this treason” are on this blog and others and posting on Facebook and other social media sites. They aren’t elected officials we are paying to take this action and others to uphold their oath of office, protect this country and American citizens. Joe Donnelly is a prime example but; is there another Democrat qualified and brave enough to stand against him in the next Senatorial election? His support of Gorsuch following his lack of support for Merrick Garland plus voting against other issues involving democracy and our civil rights makes me question his leadership ability.

  8. Please remember it’s fine to rant here about DJT’s budget proposals, but we are failing in our duties as citizens if we don’t contact our reps in Congress and voice our opposition to these proposals. Democracy.io is a quick and easy way to do so. Some will complain that it makes you write the whole message, but that’s a lot more effective than the pre-written messages created by an interest group. Evan Bayh once told me so in a letter.

    So, please do your part and help flood the Congressional phone lines and email inboxes.

  9. I have emailed my own messages to Joe Donnelly, Todd Young and Jim Banks regarding this budget proposal, the healthcare bill, cabinet appointments and other issues that have arisen since the election of 45. They’re all pretty much aboard the Trump train (with Donnelly walking the fence) but at least I’m making my views known to them.

  10. I think that there are still two “sides” that Americans can align with.

    Rather than label them liberal or conservative or Republican or Democrat perhaps better would be victims and problem solvers.

    Some of the victims are those who will be and don’t realize it yet. They may even be happy today as the forces that they will ultimately be victims of line them up. Other victims understand and accept the end of America as a Republic but see no hope for the return of the Republic. Others may be the passive apathetic. “Whatever”.

    I will admit that these are challenging times for problem solvers, those who feel up to the challenge and willing to do what it takes. We are clearly in the darkness before the dawn.

    History will ultimately record which side will prove prescient.

  11. I don’t remember a time when the Republicans didn’t think they were more qualified to handle the nation’s money than the Democrats were. And I don’t remember a time when the Democrats didn’t believe the Republicans were selfish and greedy.

    I don’t remember when male politicians … both parties … didn’t believe they were better judges of what should be done to females’ body parts. I cannot remember when female voters … both parties … were not more inclined to vote for male politicians.

    I don’t remember when the five most brilliant individuals in both parties were willing to sit down together and figure out what the most logical financial avenues should be. I obviously have a bad memory.

  12. It is even worse than the responses to today’s blog so far suggest in that the savings from the brutal budget proposals recommended by Trump will be funneled into the already overflowing coffers of the rich and corporate class in the form of tax cuts and a reduction if not cessation of regulatory controls of Wall Street banks, polluting industries etc. Big defense contractors with their flag-waving demands for even bigger appropriations (when already at obscene and unnecessary levels) will score well too, accompanied by further movement of what is left of the middle class into the poverty class underneath bridges which are themselves on the verge of collapse for want of repair and renewal.
    I remember well hearing Trump in a recent speech at Boeing as he ended it by saying “God Bless America, and God Bless Boeing.” It appears that the president has added divine blessing to money for this big defense contractor, a potent combination, and at our expense. Remember the lack of regulatory control that gave us credit derivatives, bailouts, Bush’s Great Recession, insolvent Wall Street banks etc.? Welcome to a rerun as Dodd-Frank becomes a toothless piece of junk, the SEC a joke, and the halls of Congress a lobbyist’s paradise. Trump’s proposals sound like those of some Third World dictator designed to expand executive power at the expense of our democracy and must be resisted. Otherwise, 1929, anybody?

  13. well, you are right. Flint is not the only place where the government actually made the environment (and water) WORSE and tried to cover it up. There is also the Colorado river poisoning, and you wonder how many similar incidents were covered up. The agencies under scrutiny are usually NOT that old, nor factually shown to be effective, but regardless are priceless, and like ALL government programs cannot spare even a nickle.

  14. The biggest waste of money will be Trump’s “Great, Great Wall” (someone told him that China already had a “Great Wall”). Once the Republicans get through with their vision of America, no one will want to come here.

    Does anyone else hear the echoes of Tom Lehrer’s song Pollution?
    Pollution, pollution!
    You can use the latest toothpaste,
    And then rinse your mouth
    With industrial waste.

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