The following post, written by The Rev. Robert A. Franek, is a part of Politicus Policy Discussion, in which writers draw connections between real lives and public policy.
From silencing Sesame Street and starving seniors to cancelling climate change funding and abandoning the arts and humanities, the priorities proposed by Donald Trump and his administration touch the lives of every single American.
Since the numbers were released there has been no shortage of uproar against the immorality of this proposal that would end funding for programs like Meals on Wheels. This was only made worse when Trump’s Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said it was the compassionate thing to do.
Under the guise of cold calculations and in the name of compassion Mulvaney poured gasoline on the fire of outrage already burning because these cuts make no sense to anyone who cares about this country and the well-being of their neighbor and the environment.
Since the announcement on Thursday of Donald Trump’s “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” social media sites have been filled with various cost comparisons. One shows that it costs $35 million more to provide security for Trump Tower at $183 million per year than to fund the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, which is currently $148 million per year. Similar comparisons have been made with Meals on Wheels which also emphasize the savings in health care costs.
However, all the arguments around the cost of this program and that expense, whether funding for climate change and senior citizen meals or Trump’s frequent weekends to Mar-a-Lago and the security for his wife and son at Trump Tower, miss the malicious malfeasance of Donald Trump’s spending priorities. It is simply not about the money. Rather these malicious cuts project a dangerous ideology that national security comes solely though defense spending. More, the greed of Trump’s lavish living as if there are endless taxpayer dollars to fund his frequent trips to his private club already exposes his malfeasance in using taxpayer dollars.
As Jason Easley pointed out on Thursday morning, Trump’s plan hardly amounts to a budget and it is Congress that will have to come to a budget agreement working from Donald Trump’s laundry list of priorities. Ultimately, members of Congress will have to explain to their constituents the compassion behind starving seniors while pouring money into the Pentagon. This is sure to be a losing argument as many Congressional Republicans are already under fire for lying about the benefits of their new health care bill.
Nevertheless, what cannot be missed is that Donald Trump and his administration simply do not care about the majority of the American people and the programs that provide immeasurable benefits to both individuals and society as a whole no matter how little the cost in the total budget.
Eliminating funding for programs like Meals on Wheels, public broadcasting, the arts and humanities, and climate change does little to ease the tax burden of the average taxpayer and results in a great loss of services and opportunities. Though, Mulvaney would say this is the “compassionate” part of the plan. Baloney!
The maliciousness of Donald Trump’s cuts to some of the smallest areas of federal spending while further bloating one of the largest areas of discretionary spending: defense, shows that this administration is not interested in putting America first as the plan states nor does it care about the well-being of the people or the environment we all inhabit.
An administration that cared about the money would put a time-out on Trump’s weekend travel to Mar-a-Lago and look for savings in the Pentagon. An administration that governed with compassion would not starve seniors or cut all funding for climate change, the greatest global and national security issue of our time. An administration that cared about taxpayer dollars would not maliciously cut from the smallest areas of discretionary spending and call it compassionate, while funding war machines our military doesn’t need.
The cost savings in Trump’s “America First” proposal simply do not add up, either economically or morally. Personal and religious charity cannot compensate for these devastating cuts. Yet, they are a pittance compared to the overall federal budget and will present a negotiating challenge to the members of Congress who must ultimately decide on the funding for every aspect of the federal budget.
The arguments against Trump’s budget priorities must move beyond the numbers and focus on our deepest shared moral values. When the federal budget comes before Congress we must let our Representatives and Senators know that we will not stand for a morally bankrupt budget.