White House Budget Aims To Put “America First”

Released earlier in March to Americans, the Trump administration’s 2017 budget is now public on the White House website. Boldly named, “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” the proposals seek to keep the promises made by President Trump during his 2016 campaign. There are three key initiatives that the budget focuses on: increasing defense spending, fighting violent crime and the drug epidemic, and addressing immigration.

The document reads quite vaguely. Beginning with a blunt page-and-a-half message from the president (short compared to four and a half from Obama in his 2016 budget) and consisting of only 53 pages (again, short relative to Obama’s 142), the document is written in simple bullet points.

The budget proposes a $54 billion increase in Defense programs; however, this comes at the cost of hefty cuts to other non-defense programs. It also declares “deep cuts to foreign aid”, and vows not to add to the deficit, promising to do “more with less”.  

Less, in this case, means less independent agencies that work for at-home causes. The Budget eliminates the Appalachian Regional Commission, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, The Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, and several others. The budget also defunds Earth Science initiatives and research by NASA- in other words, it eliminates NASA’s budget for dealing with climate change.

These cuts have caused controversy as the departments they affect used only a fraction of total government spending and had a tremendous impact on the communities they served. Many Republicans fear the repercussions of eliminating the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state partnership that creates self-sustaining economic opportunities and improved life quality in the 13 Appalachia states. Since the formation of the ARC, Appalachia has seen significant reductions in poverty and infant mortality, while graduation rates have doubled and hundreds of thousands of jobs were created. 10 out of 13 of the Appalachian states backed Trump in the 2017 election, for his promises to reinvigorate that region. This proposal incites fear that those promises are being forgotten by the administration.

The reasons for eliminating programs are often sparse and lacking in evidence. For example, Section 4 Housing and Affordable Housing was  defunded because, “this program is duplicative of efforts funded by philanthropy and other more flexible private sector investments.” In other words, the budget leaves $35 million worth of low income urban neighborhood funding up to nonprofit and philanthropy organizations.

Despite many cuts, the budget does increase spending on some non-defense programs such as opioid prevention and nuclear waste cleanup. Further relevant reading can be found at the White House website. All information quoted in this article was found directly at America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.