As promised, Trump unveiled his budget today, and I think it’s safe to say that it was far worse than most of us imagined. The President’s budget, if passed into law, would, among other things, cut the budget for the Environmental Protection Agency by 30%, completely eliminating 50 programs and 3,200 positions, and entirely cut federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
These cuts, according to the Trump administration, aren’t cruel, but compassionate.
“Can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs?” White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney asked rhetorically this morning, when introducing the President’s budget. “The answer was no. We can ask them to pay for defense, and we will, but we can’t ask them to continue to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”
This budget, to hear Mulvaney tell it, is all about compassion, and putting people first. It’s all about helping the needy, he said, by allowing them to keep their hard-earned dollars.
Yes, the out-of-work coal miner in West Virginia and the single mother in Detroit can keep the dollar or two that they pay each year through their taxes to support the EPA and Public Broadcasting. And they can spend that two dollars however they like. Isn’t that the very definition of compassion? Sure, they may no longer have safe air to breathe, or water to drink, but, for those two dollars, they can put a deposit down on a respirator that they everyone in their family can take turns using.
I’m sure you know this, but this budget isn’t about returning a few dollars to the coal miner in West Virginia and the single mother in Detroit. It’s about returning ten of millions of dollars to the wealthy, who don’t give a fuck if garbage incinerators are built in poor neighborhoods, and water in rural America is flammable as a result of fracking. This, as Grover Norquist told us several decade ago, is about shrinking the government to the size that that it can be dragged to a bathtub and drown. This is about handing our nation over to the corporate class once and for all.
And this isn’t just about slashing the EPA and Public Broadcasting. The budget gets even worse as far as non-wealthy Americans are concerned. The Trump budget would, among other things, would, according to the Washington Post, “slash or abolish programs that have provided low-income Americans with help on virtually all fronts, including affordable housing, banking, weatherizing homes, job training, paying home heating oil bills, and obtaining legal counsel in civil matters.”
When asked about these cuts, which would seriously impact programs like Meals on Wheels, Mulvaney told reporters this morning that, while such programs “sound great”, they don’t “work”.
I’m not sure what it means when he says Meals on Wheels doesn’t “work,” as meals are actually prepared, delivered and eaten, and the people who consume them are kept alive. Maybe he means that it’s not profitable to feed the elderly. If so, that’s a pretty fucking sobering thought.
Regardless of the intent, one wonders how Trump’s older voters are going to respond when they hear about cuts to Meals on Wheels and other programs they rely on.
Speaking of Meals on Wheels, because Trump was here in Ypsilanti yesterday, CNN’s Jake Tapper decided to use our community as an example when talking about Meals on Wheels this afternoon, interviewing Alison Foreman, the executive director of our local Meals on Wheels chapter.
Foreman said that these Community Block Grants that the Trump administration would like to cut, account for approximately 18% of our local Meals on Wheels budget, and, if those funds were to be eliminated, Ypsi Meals on Wheels would likely have to cut back to providing one meal a day, instead of two, or deny services to some seniors. Foreman also mentioned that, for 95% of the seniors her organization serves in Ypsi, those two meals a day that they receive, are all that they eat. Furthermore, in many cases, it’s the only regular human contact these people have… While there might be short term savings to be had, one wonders what the long term costs might be if we go down this pat with Trump, cutting nutritional support to our housebound seniors. One would imagine, for instance, that hospitalizations would dramatically increase… But that doesn’t seem to be something that our President and his people have considered.
Here’s the video from CNN.