Culture

What America Could Be Losing Out On Because Of The Proposed Trump Budget Cuts


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Big government gets made into some kind of comic book villain. It’s waste personified and the regulation-loving swamp that Donald Trump wants to drain, they say. This, unsurprisingly, makes budget cuts (a sometimes necessary, but often unpopular part of running a government) a guaranteed applause getter with some crowds. And if there’s one thing President Donald Trump loves, it’s a big round of applause.

Trump also says he love jobs, but these suggested cuts will directly and indirectly result in job losses and an impediment to the work of many agencies in their effort to spur growth. So many lives, thrown into chaos in the name of cost-cutting. Is it justified? Time will tell and opinions will forever differ, but one thing is for sure: these agencies have been far from do-nothing.

Here’s a look at the 19 departments (and the size of their budgets) that could be de-funded as a part of the Trump budget plan and what they are able to do when they are allowed to keep the lights on. Please keep in mind that there are several other programs that are facing deep cuts as a result of President Trump’s budget proposal including the Meals on Wheels program and counter-terrorism funding for the city of New York.

African Development Foundation ($26 million)

The USADF means jobs and safer food for poor communities in Africa with the help of development grants (from $50,000 to $250,000). According to their site, the people that receive assistance range from “ethnic and religious minorities, pastoralists, youth and women, and those living with disabilities.”

One effort that the USADF is involved in is a partnership with GE to help bring electricity to regions in Africa that lack what so many Americans take for granted every day. They do this by partnering with female innovators, and they’ve handed out $5 million over the last four years.

Appalachian Regional Commission ($119 million)

The cuts to the ARC are a political head scratcher because Appalachia holds a lot of vocal Trump supporters who bought into his message and, in parts of the region, a whole lot of people are struggling to deal with poor economic conditions and the bloom of a drug epidemic.

Present ARC efforts include business development investment and workforce training (in a region where this is a particularly sensitive topic due to the shape of the coal industry), health and education programs, and infrastructure projects. As an example, the ARC recently paid out a $243,000 grant to help restore an aging and unhealthy water system in Oak Hill, Kentucky. The question remains, who helps the next Oak Hill in the region if the ARC is shuttered?

Chemical Safety Board ($11 million)

When there’s a chemical spill or accident, the CSB stands as an independent investigative authority with an eye on protecting communities, workers, and the environment. In addition to looking into spills and explosions, the CSB also makes safety recommendations that surely save lives.

The Corporation For National And Community Service ($771 million)

The effort to enrich the lives of countless Americans through community service in areas as diverse as disaster relief, education programs, military family assistance, and many others through the AmeriCorps and other programs could be lessened thanks to these proposed cuts. Others will hopefully step in to fill the void, but any move toward being less community oriented and charitable is a questionable one.

The Corporation For Public Broadcasting ($485 million)

PBS is the jewel of the CFPB and it’s entirely possible that they and NPR will just have to get their funding elsewhere now. Still, private funding means the mission statement may turn toward profitability and that could alter the way these vital resources go about their business. PBS, for one thing, provides educational programming, but they also supply educators with options through PBS LearningMedia that are used in the classroom. Will that continue?

Delta Regional Authority ($45 Million)

Like the ARC, this one makes you question how the elimination of a program that works to spark job creation in a set region of the country, specifically the Missippi Delta region, does anyone any good. The short answer is that it comes down to a philosophical belief that government doesn’t create jobs, business does. Thing is, these organizations and programs are all about helping private industry bloom and the DRA was doing it for about 14 cents per American citizen in cost per year. And often less.

Denali Commission ($14 Million)

Another program with an eye on assisting in job training and infrastructure programs. The Denali commission also works to build and maintain health care facilities and power plants in rural Alaska.

According to The Washington Post, the commission was portrayed as a disaster in 2013 after an internal report highlighted gross inefficiencies and suggested it be closed, but they had seemingly found new life in the time since. That’s a reminder, of course, that while these agencies are often born and operate from a well-meaning place, they can live up to the myths about their uselessness if they are poorly run.

The reflex is to wash away the good with the bad and proclaim the problem solved when this happens, but that often ignores the problems that those agencies and efforts were designed to attack.

Institute Of Museum And Library Services ($231 million)

Libraries and museums are going to be pushed to find alternate means of funding so they can stay open and continue in their quest to satiate the curiosity of those who want to know about their culture, our world, and its history.

Is a quarter billion dollars toward that end in the era of the internet too much? Many would argue it isn’t near enough.

Inter-American Foundation ($23 million)

Essentially a grant program for Latin America and the Caribbean, the IAF offers small grants to programs that lessen poverty in that part of the world. Which is crucial, it turns out, to stemming undocumented immigration.

U.S. Trade And Development Agency ($66 million)

The USTDA is another odd department for the job-focused Trump to cut because its whole goal is to encourage developing and middle-income countries to import goods and services from the US, such as renewable energy products. This can be a boon to businesses who are then able to hire more employees.

Legal Services Corporation ($366 million)

The LSC efforts to ensure that people who can’t afford a lawyer have proper representation in civil court. 90% of its budget goes to 134 legal programs. As is the case with a lot of these departments, the possible end of the LSC doesn’t mean the end of legal aid, it just means that other funding sources (some private, others local and state) will be forced to step up, or the quality and access to services will decrease.

According to LSC President Jim Sandman’s comments to HuffPo, the LSC covers, on average, 38% of the cost for legal aid in the US, but the exact percentage changes from state to state and the impact of these cuts could hit rural areas harder. Sandman also remarked that the LSC covers people who:

“[need] a protection order against an abuser, people facing wrongful eviction or foreclosure, survivors of disaster who need legal assistance in restoring their legal documents and getting access to federal benefits; representing veterans who have been denied the benefits they earned through their service in the military.”

National Endowment for the Arts ($152 million)

The NEA gets written off as a piggy bank for the purveyors of paintings and statues that some people don’t quite get, but the roots in the communities across the country run far deeper as the NEA provides grants to people who pursue design, theater programs, and museums. Art is, of course, a hugely important part of our culture, so it’s the continuing creation and maintenance of culture that is getting a kick in the teeth with this proposed cut.

National Endowment for the Humanities ($155 million)

We could come up with some words to describe what the NEH does, but this just about tells you everything you need to know. From their website:

“Because democracy demands wisdom, NEH serves and strengthens our republic by promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans.”

The NEH, like the rest of these programs, is basically on the chopping block for moar tanks.

Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation ($175 million)

Focused on affordable housing and community development, this is better known as Neighborhood Works, a program that took the lead on mitigating foreclosures after the 2007 crisis.

Northern Border Regional Commission ($7 million)

This is a regional program that largely sees the funds allotted to it spent along the Canadian border in upstate New York and rural New England. This is another economic redevelopment and infrastructure project assistance program, albeit one with a smaller profile than the others on this list.

Overseas Private Investment Corp ($63 million)

The OPIC helps U.S.-based businesses in their efforts to expand overseas. Based on Trump’s “America First” policy and his stated desire to encourage companies to keep jobs in the US, this may be the most unsurprising cut on this list.

U.S. Institute of Peace ($40 million)

There’s really nothing else to say here other than Trump trying to cut the institute studying peaceful conflict resolution in favor of a $54 billion budget increase for the military shows that the White House may be unfamiliar with irony.

U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness ($4 million)

The USICH is essentially American’s nerve center for coordinating efforts to reduce homelessness, a small but very real and painful problem in America still. And one that will now likely be combated in a less organized way.

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars ($11 million)

One of the most respected policy think-tanks in the world, and named after the only President to hold a PhD, this might be the only agency that’s not very concerned about Trump. It’s been planning for Congress to try and cut its funding for years.

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