Unveiled Monday, the Trump administration’s proposed budget is an exercise in wrongheaded priorities, repeatedly sacrificing government investment in working-class America. Let me show you.
Because this is Iowa, let’s begin by looking at proposed budget changes at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Trump administration proposes a 15 percent cut to USDA programs – billions in reductions. Included is a $26 billion cut to crop insurance, $9 billion to voluntary conservation programs, and $5 billion to Section 32 programs that help purchase American commodities in times of need (such as during a self-inflicted trade war.)
It perhaps should not be surprising that the Trump administration makes another attempt to reduce food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and once again promotes the widely panned harvest boxes. But I do hope eyebrows raise at the proposed elimination of the Rural Energy for America and Rural Economic Development programs.
But the cuts don’t stop there. Over the next decade, the Trump administration wants to strip $845 billion from Medicare and $25 billion from Social Security. It would eliminate student loan forgiveness.
Gone would be 31 percent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget and 24 percent of the State and USAID budgets, alongside deep cuts to a host of other federal departments including Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Health and Human Services, Education, Energy, Labor, Justice and Treasury.
Good, you might say, the government spends too much; glad to see the president trying to rein it in. Except this budget, if enacted, would be the most expensive in U.S. history. Cuts are funneled back in, primarily via defense spending. According to the New York Times, the cumulative cost of this budget is $4.75 trillion, a record-breaking number.
Iowans may remember Joe Biden on the campaign trail, quoting his father: ‘Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”
It seems, based on the documentation provided, that’s exactly what the Trump administration wants Americans to do. The plan relies on GOP tax cuts to provide 3 percent growth over the next decade, far from what the Congressional Budget Office projects, to balance the budget in 15 years. During its first year of enactment, however, this budget is expected to add more than $1 trillion to the deficit – and would continue to add to the deficit for at least three more years, even if its unrealistic growth projections are met.
Presented to Congress and the public with the tagline ‘Promises kept. Taxpayers first,” this budget is a campaign document. These are the Trump administration’s priorities for the country – the values Trump and administration officials will run on during the 2020 presidential election.
Because of their first-in-the-nation status, Iowans are obligated to scrutinize this 150-page document. We must decide if the Trump vision for America matches our own.
Once you’ve read it and some analysis, ask yourself if these are priorities you share.
This column by Lynda Waddington originally appeared in The Gazette on March 13, 2019.
Photo credit: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters