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Budget Topline

from Peter Radford

We all ought calm down about the Trump budget. Presidential budgets never, ever, get put into practice. They are simply exercises in politics. They simply give us insight into presidential goals.

In Trump’s case there is nothing that we didn’t already know. He wants to slash domestic programs, especially those niggling ones that offend his far right fans, and pile on the offensive weaponry for the Pentagon.

As I said: no big surprise.

Here’s a very short synopsis of the bigger items:

  1. The Environmental Protection Agency takes a really big hit — a 31% cut in spending. Many of its key programs would simply be axed. They range from any and all research into climate change to the very popular Energy Star program that rates energy using products and so gives consumers insight into their probable energy bills. Ironically one program that might survive is the greenhouse emissions monitoring program which is a mandate by Congress so getting rid of it would imply legislation unlikely to pass. So the EPA might still monitor greenhouse gases. It just would n’t be able to do anything about them.
  2. The Energy Department gets hammered too with an almost 18% cut. The biggest target at DOE is its research programs designed to help accelerate the country’s move from a carbon based energy supply to alternative sources. Right wingers have constantly complained about the DOE dabbling in applied rather than pure early stage research. Evidently Trump agrees.
  3. The State Department also gets a beating, especially anything to do with climate change. The cuts don’t indicate that the US is quitting the Paris climate agreement of 2015, but it sure looks as if that is in the cards. The cuts also include anything to do with UN based climate initiatives. Indeed the UN is a heavy target with the US contribution to peace keeping in the cross hairs. State is having its “soft power” capacity severely trimmed. These are the kinds of programs both the hard right and Russia particularly dislike. They are programs that allow the US to project a softer, gentler image to the world and are meant to take the edge off the militaristic image all those wars project. Apparently Trump doesn’t care about the US image. His generals do: they love soft power because it makes their lives easier out in the war zones.
  4. NASA gets its climate watching programs axed or drastically cut.
  5. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is likewise gutted.

Yes, there’s a pattern here. It’s not for nothing the the Trump cabinet is packed with energy and like minded plutocrats who have a long held contempt for climate science. What better way to get a nuisance out of the way for the energy companies than to gut funding?

The goal of the budget is to shift financing from all these sorts of activities — the list above leaves aside departments like Agriculture which also gets a big hit — and shovel it down the treat of the military-industrial complex in type name of security.

Quite why America needs to ramp up what is already the world’s biggest defense/offense budget — US military spending is more than of the next seven countries added up [including Russia and China] — is not clear. Except, of course, that military spending is an easy sell to a fear riddled country that jumps at the sight of its own shadow.

Oh: and the budget excludes all the severe cuts aimed at Medicaid and Medicare that are part of the great Republican repeal and reform of Obamacare.

If both the budget and the health care plan pass and are signed into law [a very low probability fortunately] America would be a vastly diminished place. Although both big business and the wealthy would be very happy.

And that is all you need to know.

This is a plutocrat’s budget, pure and simple.

  1. March 20, 2017 at 5:27 am

    “This is a plutocrat’s budget, pure and simple.” I agree. But the last 25 Presidential budgets were plutocrat’s budgets. Trump’s is just the only one that comes with all the extras – right-wing crazies in every major cabinet department, extra-nazi-like sidekick, a VP who would kill every poor person in America if he thought it would allow another dollar of tax relief for the plutocrats, big-money contributors that the Huffington Post calls the “blow-it-all-up” billionaires, and a mentally unbalanced Congress lead by a Southern bigot and a man who wishes he were Ayn Rand. Being Biblical here, this is all “signs” of the coming apocalypse. Per historian Yuval Noah Harari, “I think that Homo sapiens as we know them will probably disappear within a century or so, not destroyed by killer robots or things like that, but changed and upgraded with biotechnology and artificial intelligence into something else, into something different.” I agree about the time scale and the overall direction. But I’m not as convinced as Harari the changes will be beneficial or will not ultimately kill us all. Sort of fits with “the” Donald, “the” budget, and “the” whole kill everyone who’s not rich thing.

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