Balancing the federal budget is quite difficult. Currently, over four trillion dollars are funneled into programs across the country, while attempting to pay off the national debt.
Every year, the dance begins when the federal government must decide what stays and what goes in the budget. But who decides which programs are effective? Who determines that a program is dysfunctional and must be cut?
The “America First” budget outline released by the White House delivered many promises from the campaign trail. It attacks “useless” departments and programs by cutting their funding significantly.
The budget completely eliminates funding for some American staples that would change the landscape of the country.
Community Development Block Grant: A three billion dollar sum of money that goes to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This money goes towards poverty-assistance programs, like Meals on Wheels, which the White House have called “ineffective.” It is easy to see how a program that feeds hundreds of thousands each year would not be yielding results. Lives saved annually is clearly not an accurate indicator of success.
It also funds the Insular Areas Program, dedicated funds for urban infrastructure in four U.S. territories, and the Disaster Recovery Program, which helps communities affected by natural disasters recover. There would be no replacement for this money, some of which has gone to helping victims of deadly hurricanes. But anything to cut costs, right?
Corporation for Public Broadcasting: A fund created by Congress that gives grants to public radio stations. Cuts to federal funding for public radio would, “result in fewer programs, less journalism—especially local journalism—and eventually the loss of public radio stations, particularly in rural and economically distressed communities,” according to National Public Radio.
Fitting with the recent anti-news narrative, cutting out public, non-partisan radio news makes sense. It eliminates credible news sources for rural areas and helps the White House push their policy without any other voices.
Climate Change Initiatives: The new budget completely cuts funding to any United Nations climate change programs or initiatives, on top of cutting contributions to the UN in general. It also discontinues funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate change initiatives, an agency who largely focuses on countering the effects of manmade climate change.
The Grand Old Party’s insistence that climate change is a hoax led to these drastic cuts in the current administration. According to their logic, if climate change is not real, then it is not worth funding. The scientific prowess of the GOP is truly fascinating, especially since non-partisan NASA says climate change is real.
College funding: “America First” now means eliminating the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, which provides financial aid for students with the greatest need. This introduces significant barriers for the teenagers that would benefit the most from a college education and begins to limit degrees to the wealthy.
Why are such essential programs, many of which have been around for decades, being cut now?
“America First” is intended to prioritize American money for American citizens, but it is also meant to show off American prowess to the rest of the world.
The Department of Defense would see a ten percent increase in its budget, which is already at 521.7 billion dollars. The reasoning? “The president wants to send a message to our allies and our potential adversaries that this is a strong-power administration,” said Mick Mulvaney, White House budget director.
Why is this “strong-power” necessary if the United States has not been officially in a war since 1946?
In fact, there are ineffective programs the government should not be funding. Notably, the $25 billion border wall. Texas representative Will Hurd (R) called it the “most expensive and least effective way to secure the border.” He would know, as over 800 miles of the border are contained within his district.
“America First” became Americans last. Let’s hope Congress has enough backbone to stop it.