By James Dail (CMC ’20)
Following the conclusion of last year’s presidential election, one thing pundits on both sides of the political aisle could not stop talking about was how it signaled a change. There had been a radical shift in the Republican base that would have reverberations for decades to come. Every year, the President submits his budget before Congress. The changes the President makes to discretionary spending are are a good indication of the direction he wants to take the country. President Trump’s first budget proposal makes it look as if the pundits were wrong. While there some elements of the budget that are characteristically Trumpian, whichhis supporters will no doubt be fond of, the vast majority of the budget resembles a traditional conservative’s dream come true.
In a rather contradictory move, the President supports elevating American military power while simultaneously fostering isolationism. The budget calls for a 10% increase in military spending.1 At the same time, it would also increase funding for Homeland Security in order to provide more effective border control. This would constitute an increase in staff in order to handle deportations, while also providing funding for the construction of a border wall.1 Additional priorities include an increase in funding for Veterans Affairs, improving the healthcare quality that veterans receive, as well as a $1.5 billion budget increase to the Department of Education in order to fund increased school voucher programs.1
President Trump rearranged the budget without a tax increase, meaning that the extra money given to the aforementioned departments has to come from cutting funding to other departments. Nearly all other federal departments receive budget cuts under the budget plan, so I will just cover specific program eliminations. Several of these eliminations include the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, which is a college scholarship program for low-income students, as well as before and after school programs for students.1 The loss of funding here will be shifted within the Department of Education towards voucher programs. Another major program loss includes the Clean Power Plan, which was introduced by President Obama in 2015 with the intent of reducing Carbon emissions.1 Some program eliminations could have a major impact on American life actually comprise a relatively miniscule amount of the current budget. The budget proposal would also eliminate funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.2 This will eliminate many primary and secondary school arts programs, limit museum funding, and limit access in certain areas to popular children’s shows such as Sesame Street.
In short, the President’s budget proposal elevates defense and border security at the expense of many domestic departments and programs. The President views the world as a dangerous place. He wants to project American power abroad while also preventing any outsiders he deems hostile from entering into the US. While his supporters will no doubt love the increased funding for border security measures, there is little else in the budget for them. Trump’s increase in defense spending contradicts his pledge on the campaign trail to put America first and steer away from military conflict. At the same time, his massive cuts to federal departments show that he is staunchly opposed to big government, even when cutting these departments could pose harm to his supporters in rural areas.