By Dustin Niles, Layout & Design Editor
In the waning hours of March 24, President Donald Trump issued an ultimatum to House Republicans resisting the healthcare bill that Trump’s administration was trying to push to the House that day: This is the one and only opportunity to get rid of Obamacare.
They passed on the chance.
Now, Trump and his administration are moving on to reworking the federal budget, attempting to fill his campaign promises to cut taxes and spending, increase the military budget and improve the country’s crumbling infrastructure.
One of Trump’s top advisors, Steve Bannon, told the Conservative Political Action Conference that Trump administration’s aim was “deconstruction of the administrative state.”
According to CNN, the biggest feature of Trump’s budget would be a 10% ($54 billion) increase in military spending; a department of the government that already receives almost half of all the federal government’s discretionary spending. This increase would ensure that the Department of Defense receives more discretionary spending than the rest of all other federal agencies combined.
In order to pay for the increase in the defense budget, Trump has proposed cuts for “most federal agencies.”
CNN reports that sources familiar with the budget plan say some of the organizations under consideration for heavy budget cuts would be the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities. According to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, the NEA makes up 0.012% of the federal discretionary spending budget and, according to Fox News, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting only costs the average American $1.35 a year.
President of the CPB Patricia Harrison said the cuts would “initially devastate and ultimately destroy” the role of public media in American life, according to TIME.
Another agency under the knife with Trump’s plan is the Environmental Protection Agency, headed by Scott Pruitt, who says on his LinkedIn page that he is a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda,” according to the Washington Post.
Divisions in the EPA such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the appliance rating agency Energy Star, which currently receive $770 million, could be eliminated entirely, according to USA Today.
Independent federal agencies will also be subject to deep cuts or elimination, including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps elderly and low-income citizens pay their power and heating bills. Currently, it receives $3.4 billion in federal funding and would be cut under President Trump’s budget, according to USA Today. National Heritage Areas and the National Wildlife Refuge Fund, which receive $33.2 million combined, would also be eliminated.
These are just a few of the 62 federal agencies currently outlined for elimination under Trump’s budget plan.
In addition to the social programs above, there will be significant cuts in foreign aid and the State Department, which current Secretary of Defense James Mattis lobbied for during Congressional hearings in 2013, according to CNN. Foreign aid makes up for approximately 1 percent of the federal budget as of now.
“Yes, it is a fairly small part of the discretionary budget, but it is still consistent with what the President said,” Mick Mulvaney, Office of Management and Budget Director, said according to CNN. “We are taking his words and turning them into polices and dollars.”
When Mulvaney was being vetted for his position in the Trump administration, only one Republican voted against him, Arizona Senator John McCain, who opposed him out of the fear that he was not committed enough to increasing the budget for defense.
“I want the American people to know that our budget will reflect their priorities,” Trump said in a budget meeting earlier this month, according to CNN. “We’ll be directing all of our departments and agencies to protect every last American and every last tax dollar. No more wasted money.”
The budget cuts represent a significant shift in the role of the federal government in the everyday lives of Americans. According to CNN, one EPA employee said that the agency would be crippled by Trump’s cuts, only able to do its most basic functions.
New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof toured Oklahoma recently interviewing Trump voters about their thoughts on his budget proposal. Judy Banks is currently employed as a receptionist for a senior nutrition program, placed there by the Labor Department’s Senior Community Service Employment Program – a program targeted for budget cuts.
“If I lose this job,” Banks said, “I’ll sit at home and die.”