21 Mar Opposing the Proposed Budget
On March 16, US President Donald Trump announced his proposed discretionary national budget for 2018. The budget puts about $58 billion extra dollars towards the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Veteran Affairs—at the expense of around 16 other departments, whose funding would all be cut. Funding would be completely eliminated for 19 agencies, including the U.S. Institute for Peace, which provides resources for conflict resolution in some of the most violent parts of the world.
What this means, then, is that the money that was previously going to fund world peace will now be going to purchase fighter jets and Navy ships.
And it’s not only peace that’s being defunded – it’s most of the US’s resources for fighting ignorance and hate. The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which provide grant money for, respectively, artists and scholars in humanities fields, are being completely abolished. Funds to the Department of Education are being reduced by $9.2 billion, cutting into money that’s used for teacher training and federal aid for low income students. A cut of $10.9 billion dollars is being proposed for the State Department, reducing funding to UN initiatives that the US is involved in, including peacekeeping and climate change programs.
Climate change research and mitigation is being smacked extremely hard by this proposed budget. As mentioned above, State Department funding to UN climate initiatives is being slashed. Four climate change research initiatives run by NASA are being defunded. The EPA is having its budget cut by 31% – which would drastically reduce the EPA’s capacity to clean up hazardous substances or enforce its air and water quality laws and completely eliminate more than 50 programs, including all of the EPA’s climate change research programs, as well as shrinking the size of the agency substantially. The deconstruction of the EPA is especially worrying, because the burden of funding the kinds of programs that the EPA currently runs would shift to the states, which are unlikely to have the money or the disposition to take them on.
What does this proposed budget mean for us as activists, then? Certainly, it’s something to oppose – and it seems to me that it needs to be fought. Reduction in federal funding for environmental initiatives would be a huge step back for the environmentalist movement. The proposed budget cuts would both decrease the actual number of research and mitigation efforts and make it unlikely that any more will be started, effectively eliminating much of the relatively modest successes we’ve managed to achieve. But this is only a proposed budget, not a definite budget – there are many more steps it has to pass through before it becomes official, and that gives us a chance to oppose it. We need to be in contact with our representatives and senators to let them know that, contrary to what the present administration believes, we don’t think that initiatives to protect our environment are a waste of money.
We should also be aware that the proposed budget isn’t only anti-environmental. Personally, as the product of two humanities scholars and one public high school, I feel very strongly that the budget’s cuts to the Department of Education and the arts and humanities agencies are wrong. In opposing the proposed budget, we stand beside teachers, artists, scholars, small business owners, retirees, low-income people, and a host of others who would be negatively impacted by this budget. With everyone working together, we could send a very powerful message to the administration that believes that our quality of life is more negotiable than fighter jets.