Saturday, March 18, 2017

Trump - The Budget

Stupefyingly lunkheaded.
That's all I can say about a proposed federal budget from Donald Trump that proposes to zero out public broadcasting,  the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Meals on Wheels, and cut spending on medical research, environmental research, education . . . just about every domestic spending program there is.  The State Department and foreign aid also get decimated, as does transportation funding for local projects (wait - isn't Trump supposed to be the infrastructure President?).  This budget proposed to stick it to the very people who voted for Trump - white working-class people who rely on government services.  It's a budget even Republicans are appalled with!  One could forgive anyone who thought that the U.S. Senator who proclaimed the Trump budget dead on arrival at Capitol Hill was Charles Schumer.  In fact, it was Lindsay Graham, a Republican that Schumer once described as "a nice guy."
In New Jersey and New York, the Gateway Project, the passenger rail tunnel under the Hudson River that replaced an earlier project canceled by New Jersey governor and Trump stooge Chris Christie for being too costly, would lose half of its federal funding.  Of course New Jersey's senior U.S. Senator, Robert Menendez, came out against the cut, but so did Chris Christie.
Too understand the logic behind Trump's proposed draconian cuts, one needs to remember that he's a businessman and looks at the budget like a corporate spreadsheet.  Anything that doesn't produce a profit or doesn't yield quantifiable results that can be explained with numbers, like mass transit or anti-poverty initiatives, gets dropped.  And there's also how Trump sees the world as being full of winners and losers.  Trump likes winners.  That's why he can't be bothered with funding the National Endowment for the Arts, which doles out money to aspiring painters, musicians, dancers, theater directors and the like (and isn't funded at anywhere near the level of funding for culture ministries in other industrialized countries).  Artists who don't appeal to large mass audiences don't make much of a living from their art, unlike, say, rappers and movie stars.  Trump doesn't like ballet, opera, or classical music because it doesn't make money and is not popular.  They're losers. Trump likes people who win.
Trump also likes people who can't be bothered with losers, and that's why he gets the support of people who don't like highbrow art and feel much more comfortable at a country music show or a NASCAR race - i.e., the working-class people who voted for him. Except that these are the same people who would be hurt most by Trump's cuts to domestic programs.   
Needless to say, no President gets the exact budget he wants, as the House of Representatives has the power of the purse, and Congress is likely to restore many of the cuts made - especially to the State Department budget. Trump's blueprint, by the way, is so lacking in detail that he and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney only put out a 53-page summation.  The budget's increases are for the military, making it clear that this is a budget based on armed strength and not compassion for the weak.  At least one infrastructural program, though is well-funded in the proposed budget - the wall on the border with Mexico.
No need for that.  We won't have too many problems with immigration.  Trump's budget priorities send a signal to the rest of the world that the United States is to be a country no one would want to come to.      

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