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The “America First” Budget: Cuts, Increases, and a Wall

Zachary Johnson

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President Donald Trump recently introduced his annual budget proposal for 2018. The budget, named “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” aims to do just that by cutting critical amounts of funding for many smaller government offices, agencies, and endowments. Keep in mind, however, that a budget proposal does not mean the proposed budget in question is immediately enacted and the money is spent. The budget must first be discussed and voted on by the House and Senate before it can be passed and enacted.

The “America First” budget has been largely criticized by Democrats, as it devastates the budgets for many smaller programs, such as the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Another agency on the chopping block is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The proposal slashes the EPA’s budget by 31%, which is a predictable cut, after the president put the EPA “on notice” in January and gagged the social media account that same month.

The Agency for Housing and Urban Development is also the victim of budget cuts, losing about $6 billion, or roughly 13% of its funding, reasoning that local developments should be run by local and state governments, and mostly not on the federal level. The proposed budget takes away about 1% of NASA’s budget, going from $19.2 billion to $19.1 billion. This may not seem like much, but it cuts almost all of the funding for critical research on things like Earth and Climate Science- subjects the current administration is famous for denying and repressing.

The Department of Education is also losing some funding. The proposed budget would take away $9 billion, or a 14% decrease. This would mostly eliminate funding for government-operated summer programs and other childcare facilities. The proposed budget would also give about $250 million to programs to promote school choice.

Finally, one of the controversial cuts is to arts agencies, like the National Endowment for the Humanities (which will lose all $148 million of its funding), the National Endowment for the Arts (which will lose all $148 million of its funding), the entirety of the budget for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (losing all $230 million of its funding), and cuts all funding for Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which operates PBS and NPR. This is incredibly controversial because, compared to other cuts, these agencies have rather small budgets compared to other agencies getting cut. Plus, these agencies are rather important in public eye, since they operate many memorable and sentimental programs, like Sesame Street, Arthur, Democracy Now!, Sid the Science Kid, and many more.

The budget also increases funding substantially for the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The largest budget increase goes to the Defense Department, increasing spending by 9%, or $52 billion. This may not seem like a lot, but $52 billion is about the same amount as the budgets for the EPA, the Department of Transportation, the Treasury Department, and NASA combined.

According to the Washington Post, the money would be used to bolster the size of the Army and Marine Corps, increase the number of ships for the Navy, and buy more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. This would bring the total government spending for the Department of Defense to around $640 billion. The budget report will also allocate $4.5 billion “for programs to strengthen the security of the Nation’s borders and enhance the integrity of its immigration system,” which is expected to be used towards construction of a wall on the southern border.

“I think the Department of Defense should’ve been cut instead of added to because there’s no reason we have so many troops overseas, like in Germany, Japan, France, Italy, South Korea, and so on. The military could be efficiently cut and still be as strong by replacing manpower with robotics. We have better things to funnel money into than other countries’ problems,” said sophomore Jacob Hasenyager.

Another sophomore, Brook Heater, felt differently. “The military budget should be expanded to help fund and aid veterans and their health problems. The veterans should be better covered and better funded, as opposed to other military expenditures.”

Overall, the “America First” budget promises to cut many smaller government agencies in order to promote national defense. Though the budget is only a proposal, it may be passed since the House of Representatives and the Senate are both Republican-controlled.

The budget, in its entirety, can be found here for further reading.

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The “America First” Budget: Cuts, Increases, and a Wall