You've maybe seen a Facebook post or two about the National Endowment for the Arts or the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and how President Donald Trump is looking to get rid of both. Well, brace yourself if you've not yet read Trump's budget proposal. It's what they're calling a "hard power budget," which seems to mean all the money is headed to the military and law enforcement, and that comes at a price. So, what does Trump's budget proposal cut? The Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department are two of the hardest hit federal departments. We're not talking pocket change, either.
According to an analysis by Reuters, these agencies will see percentage cuts in the double digits. The State Department's funding would go down 28 percent or $10.9 million, while the EPA's funding would be cut by $2.6 million, some 31 percent of its operating budget. Mick Mulvaney, Trump's director of the Office of Management and Budget, told reporters Wednesday that this is intentional. "This is a hard power budget and that was done intentionally. The president very clearly wants to send a message to our allies and our potential adversaries that this is strong power administration," Mulvaney explained.
Mulvaney also claimed that the State Department and EPA would not see their "core" functions affected, but people working at those agencies have a different story to tell. John O'Grady, the head of the union representing EPA employees, told CNN that this budget would threaten gains in clear air and water around the country. "How can this administration tell America that we will have clean air and clean water with a 25 percent reduction in US EPA's budget?" he asked, adding that they're already at a "bare-bones budget and staffing level."
As for the drastic cuts, Mulvaney explained them as a difference in priorities:
The president wants to spend more money on defense, more money securing the border, more money enforcing the laws, and more money on school choice, without adding to the deficit.
The winners, as Bloomberg reports, would be the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Transportation. Their gains come at the expense of nearly every other area of government. In addition to the headline-grabbing cuts to the State Department and the EPA, the Department of Agriculture would also see a big hit. Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor break the 20 percent-reduction mark as well. In addition, some 62 specific programs and agencies are set to be cut completely, USA Today reported.
But, yes, there will be a border wall. Mulvaney told reporters that the budget will include $3.76 billion for the border wall split into two payments. The cost and length are still a big question mark, according to the administration, in part due to questions about the construction material.
This budget is not just problematic — it's scary. Let's just hope the cuts at the State Department don't make the increased defense spending necessary. Call your senators and rep to tell them you don't support the Trump budget. Better early and often. The entire budget will be presented in May.