Last week, the Trump administration released its budget proposal for 2018, thereby fulfilling an important presidential duty. The budget is always a complicated topic resulting in fierce political debates, but this year’s proposal stands out thanks to the drastic changes it brings as well as the staggering amount of opposition against it. It provides valuable insight into the new administration’s priorities which have been rather hard to pinpoint since the election. Overall, Trump’s budget faces tremendous criticism from both liberals and conservatives, primarily due to its significant cuts in the funding of many important executive agencies combined with a large increase in defense spending.
The Associated Press broke down the major winners and losers of Trump’s budget plan here. Here’s a rundown of those changes and why they matter to us:
- One of the most controversial elements is a 31 percent, or $17 billion, cut for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development. This significant reduction in funding of global programs will undermine America’s ability to maintain its diplomatic and humanitarian presence abroad, and the resulting power vacuum from the U.S. reducing its influence in key regions such as Eastern Europe could lead to instability. In addition, the U.S. would be unable to contribute to international climate change efforts, which will severely undermine coordinated efforts to combat global warming.
- The Environmental Protection Agency faces a stunning 31.4 percent reduction in funding, down $2.6 billion. Although hailed by many Republicans, this change will cause more than 3,000 EPA employees to lose their jobs, thus crippling the agency’s capacity to enact new power plant regulations and other valuable initiatives meant to help preserve the environment. Climate change research will be completely eliminated. Our nation will become very limited in its fight to ensure the most basic human rights to clean air and water.
- The Department of Health and Human Services will absorb a 16.2 percent, or $12.6 billion, cut, including a $5.8 billion cut for the National Institutes of Health. In addition to the decrease in funding in recent years, this reduction will impact critical research on everything from the common flu to cancer and will diminish America’s standing as the leader in biomedical innovations.
- A mix of cuts and increases will affect our nation’s education. An additional $1.4 billion will be allocated toward school choice programs, thereby allowing more freedom in choosing schools but also undermining the public education system. The Education Department as a whole will face a 13 percent, or $9 billion, cut, which will negatively affect 20 programs. And federal resources for 19 independent agencies involved in promoting education and the arts would disappear, including for the Public Broadcasting Corporation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
- Many of the cuts mentioned are balanced out by a 10 percent increase in the already massive defense budget, a total of $639 billion for 2018. Although the Pentagon receives more than the next seven nearest countries’ military spending combined, it has claimed that it receives inadequate funding for the threats it faces. But there is proof that the Department of Defense has failed to effectively use its current funds, with $25 billion wasted annually in business operations alone. In addition, the threats that our country faces today, while severe, do not require the level of spending Trump is proposing.
- The Department of Homeland Security will receive a 6.8 percent, $2.8 billion, increase. Of that, $2.6 billion is earmarked for the construction of the border wall between Mexico and the U.S. Trump claims to be keeping an important campaign pledge against illegal immigration, but his own budget proposal shows that he is breaking another signature pledge: to make Mexico pay for the wall.
The Trump administration’s goals for America have been laid bare by the budget proposal. The president is attempting to justify the dismantling of essential programs by inflating the seriousness of threats from abroad, such as terrorism and illegal immigration. He has embarked the country on a path toward military escalation and away from focusing on issues at home, such as education and the environment. Only time will tell how the budget will evolve by the end of the year and how the final product will impact our country’s future. Growing resistance from congressional Democrats and Republicans may lead to a more sensible budget. But one thing is for sure: If Congress passes Trump’s proposal in its current form, the American people will be left with a less certain future, both at home and abroad.