You can learn a lot about someone’s values by looking at how they spend their money. That’s as true for governments and societies as it is for you and me.
Don’t take my word for it. Ask Jesus:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. — Matthew 6:19-21 (KJV)
By that measure, and based on the federal budget he’s proposed (you can read it here), Donald Trump’s heart is in a dark, cruel, fear-haunted place. You can feel it in his message introducing the budget:
The American people elected me to fight for their priorities in Washington and deliver my promise to protect our Nation. I fully intend to keep that promise.
One of the most important ways the Federal Government sets priorities is through the Budget of the United States.
Accordingly, I submit to the Congress this blueprint to reprioritize Federal spending so that it advances the safety and security of the American people.
Our aim is to meet the simple, but crucial demand of our citizens — a Government that puts the needs of its own people first. When we do that, we will set free the dreams of every American, and we will begin a new chapter of American greatness.
A budget that puts America First must make the safety of our people its number one priority — because without safety, there can be no prosperity.
I’ve already written about the dubious utility of tacking an additional $50+ billion on top of the $600+ billion we already spend on defense, more than the next dozen countries combined. But when that figure was first floated, the biggest increase in defense spending since the Reagan era, we didn’t know what would be cut to pay for it.
Now we do, and it’s ugly in its cynical brutality. Here are the proposed spending cuts, by agency:
- Environmental Protection Agency -31%
- State Department and other foreign aid programs -29%
- Agriculture -21%
- Department of Labor -21%
- Department of Justice -20%
- Health and Human Services -16%
- Department of Commerce -16%
- Department of Education -14%
- Department of Transportation -13%
- Housing and Urban Development -12%
- Department of the Interior -12%
- Department of Energy -6%
- Department of the Treasury -4%
- NASA -1%
The following 19 agencies would be completely eliminated:
- African Development Foundation
- Appalachian Regional Commission
- Chemical Safety Board
- Corporation for National and Community Service
- Corporation for Public Broadcasting
- Delta Regional Authority
- Denali Commission
- Institute of Museum and Library Services
- Inter-American Foundation
- U.S. Trade and Development Agency
- Legal Services Corporation
- National Endowment for the Arts
- National Endowment for the Humanities
- Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation
- Northern Border Regional Commission
- Overseas Private Investment Corporation
- U.S. Institute of Peace
- U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
- Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
The hammer falls heavily on the poor, eliminating the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program which helps poor people heat their homes in winter, and abolishing the Community Development Block Grant program which funds projects related to affordable housing, rental assistance, community development, homelessness, Meals on Wheels, and more. It cuts funds for programs providing baby formula, healthy foods, nutrition counseling and more for poor mothers with young children.
It eliminates a program to support and promote economic development in the Appalachian region, which has been crippled by decades of job losses and is being ravaged by the opioid epidemic.
It scales back job training programs for seniors, disadvantaged young people, and the unemployed. It eliminates the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, which is reserved for college students with the greatest demonstrated financial need and drastically reduces federal work-study funds for college students. It diverts $1.4 billion to school choice programs while eliminating funding for before- and after-school and summer programs.
It burdens the sick, cutting nearly $5.8 billion, or nearly 20%, from the National Institutes of Health, and guts scientific inquiry at EPA, NASA, the Department of Energy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It eliminates funds for cleanup and restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes, and for climate change research and programs.
It eliminates federal funding for music, literature, the arts and humanities, libraries and museums, educational and cultural exchange programs, and efforts to promote international peace and combat global hunger.
So where does the budget increase? At Homeland Security, to begin work on building a wall along the Mexican border, to hire and train Border Patrol agents, build detention centers, and fund the deportation of illegal immigrants. At Energy, to manage the country’s nuclear weapons arsenal. And at Defense, though exactly how the windfall would be distributed between putting more boots on the ground against ISIS and big-ticket military hardware like fighter jets and warships, is left undisclosed.
This is what a budget built on fear and cruelty looks like. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
(You can read detailed coverage and analysis of the budget, here, here, here, and here.)