In the first year of the Trump administration, there has perhaps been nothing more consistent than leaks. Often, policy or decisions made by the president or his staff are preempted by the press, with leaks of important documents becoming commonplace. On Tuesday, the liberal site Crooked Media published what it claims is a Trump administration policy "wish list" from the Domestic Policy Council.
A little background: The policies handled by the DPC usually aren't the big ones debated on national TV or in the halls of Congress. They're more akin to small-bore reorganizations, funding changes, and goals that filter through executive agencies. Crooked Media's leaked memo outlines several of these, and they come with a heap of controversy.
The document includes a line describing the World Health Organization as "a corrupt, hostile bureaucracy that achieves no actual capacity in countries," and calls for the elimination of much of its funding. It also calls for changes in funding to foreign aid, suggesting girls' education funding should go "no longer to curriculum development and other touchier-feelier programs."
The administration, which is already in some trouble over issues of alleged anti-Muslim bias in its cases over the travel ban, seemed to express a preference on religion on this change. "Only exception is in muslim [sic] countries, where we need to do a check of the curricula at the schools we’re supporting to weed out jihadism."
Perhaps most controversially, the wish list includes a suggestion that "Title X should be cut in half at least." Title X is the only federal program that explicitly funds family planning and other birth control measures. It's been a point of contention among Republicans seeking to cut its funding, arguing that it funds abortions (which it specifically excludes from its funding by law).
The reaction from those on the left to much of the policies outlined was swift.
A 2010 study by the Guttmacher Institute found that in 2008, 4.7 million women received care from clinics funded by Title X funding provided 4.7 million with care, and represented 27 percent of contraceptive need. Guttmacher estimates that Title X prevented 973,000 unplanned pregnancies that year, avoiding 433,000 unplanned births and 406,000 abortions.
Beyond just these controversies, the document reads like the planned destruction of many of the left's policy priorities, affecting not just family planning and religious tolerance, but also issues like childhood obesity, which the memo suggests should be deprioritized completely.
The document also suggests massive cuts for the pay and benefits of federal workers, which has been a major goal of Republican politicians at the state level in recent years.
At one point in the document, it calls for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program to be "defunded as it has not worked, there is no positive evidence and some negative evidence." Teen pregnancy prevention programs from the federal government have been controversial, as research suggests some of the programs methods have been ineffective. However, the past few years have seen an impressive and steady drop in teen pregnancies, which advocates of the program have argued means something we're doing is working.
The Trump administration has had a tough time getting many of their priorities through Congress. For some of these plans, which might require Congressional action, progress may be stymied. But since the policies specified in the document are changes to how existing programs work, many of them could be undertaken through executive actions or in budget passages through Congress.
It's a reminder that even beyond some of the big-ticket items that make headlines, the Trump administration is changing American government.