The Chaos Budget

Donald Trump’s budget is abnormal, vapid and senseless.

The Chaos Budget

(Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

By Peter Fenn | Opinion Contributor USNews & World Report

March 16, 2017, at 12:15 p.m.

First of all, let’s stipulate that the Trump budget is dead on arrival on the Hill. Most presidential budgets are wish lists and aren’t enacted as presented. No exception.

The big surprise is just how outrageous and out-of-line President Donald Trump’s proposals are in today’s world. Trump’s misplaced priorities and lack of pragmatism penetrate loud and clear. With cuts to 18 agencies and an increase to one, the Department of Defense, we are presented with a dark and depressing future. He is using a defense buildup to justify the tearing down of who we are as Americans.

When we are confronted with a climate crisis, he wants to cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by over 30 percent and eliminate 50 programs and 3,200 jobs. When we are confronted with complex and new diplomatic threats across the globe, Trump wants to cut the State Department and Agency for International Development funding by 29 percent or $10.1 billion. He would cut the Treasury’s international programs, with widespread bipartisan support, by 35 percent or $803 million.

When we are confronted with public health issues such as Ebola, Zika and the need to combat cancer and opioid abuse, Trump seeks to cut the National Institutes of Health budget by $5.8 billion or nearly 20 percent. And while Trump talks a good game on rebuilding America’s failing infrastructure, he proposes to get rid of the Department of Transportation program that funds $500 million in just these kinds of road projects.

As Trump makes great promises to the inner cities, he proposes cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for housing, nutrition assistance and fixing up existing water and sewer issues. He cuts $6.2 billion or over 13 percent from the HUD budget. Let them eat cake.

As we see cuts to education, labor, agriculture and many other departments of double digits, we also get a clear sense of Trump’s priorities with the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, as well as PBS.

This budget has no soul.

John F. Kennedy, as we approach his 100th birthday, may have said it best at Amherst College in 1963, shortly before he died:

I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft. I look forward to an America which will steadily raise the standards of artistic accomplishment and which will steadily enlarge cultural opportunities for all of our citizens. And I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well.

This Republican president and this budget embodies an America we hardly recognize – based on a vision to wall us off, withdraw from engagement with even our own citizens and inflict unnecessary harm, all in the name of disruption and chaos. Why spend over $4 billion this year of a projected $22 billion on a wall with Mexico as you eviscerate funds for our environment, our health, our way of life?

There is no answer. This budget and this president are not normal, are not a reflection of American values, optimism, pragmatism. Vapid, empty, senseless.

Let us hope that Congress and the American people come to grips with that, sooner rather than later.