In early March, President Trump unveiled his budget proposal for 2018. As you might expect, it does no favors for the environment, eliminates federal support for elderly and low-income Americans, defunds the arts, and slashes funding for medical research. In a new op-ed for USA Today, Bernie Sanders explained why he believes Trump's budget is a disastrous proposal that must be defeated.
Before we get into Sanders' arguments, let's give him credit for thoroughness: I counted no fewer than 19 cited sources in his op-ed, including academic studies, news articles, government reports, and more. Say what you want about Sanders, but he's certainly done his research.
Substantively, the Vermont senator touched on just about every reason why Trump's budget is "morally repugnant," in his words. Among other things, Trump's plan would:
- Slash programs for low-income students by ending the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program, cutting funding for Pell grants and eliminating the Educational Opportunity Grant
- Cut funding for affordable housing programs by $6.2 billion (!), which would impact 4.5 million households around the country
- Decrease funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by 33 percent, which would have drastic and severe ramifications for green policies across the board
- Cut the National Institute of Health's funding by 18 percent, thus making medical research into life-saving diseases that much more difficult
That's just a very small sampling of the programs Trump wants to cut. Instead, he would shovel the bulk of that money into — wait for it — the Defense Department. The Department of Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs would receive small boosts in funding as well.
"Far from compassionate, this budget — if enacted — would be one of the cruelest in American history," Sanders writes. " In the words of former Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the four star general who warned us about the power of the military industrial complex, it, 'signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.' This budget, and its absurd priorities, must be soundly defeated."
Thankfully, the budget probably will be defeated — at least, in its current form. This is because Congress, not the president, authorizes federal spending, and Congress hasn't passed this budget yet. And it probably won't, because it's extremely rare for members of Congress to simply rubber-stamp a bill that the president hands them. Instead, the budget will go through multiple committees in both chambers of Congress, all of which will change the document here and there. Then, it will have to pass both the House and the Senate — but if the House and Senate pass separate bills, they'll have to reconcile those differences and pass a compromise bill. Oh, and thanks to a 2011 law signed by Obama, Senate Democrats will have the option of filibustering Trump's budget if they so desire.
Still, if nothing else, the budget is a sign of the president's priorities, and as Sanders explained, Trump's priorities are reason for concern.