Who Wins and Loses in Trump’s Proposed Budget


A Superfund cleanup site in Montana. Federal funding for such cleanups of hazardous wastes would be reduced by about a third. Credit James Snook/Associated Press

President Trump released a partial outline of his 2018 budget on Thursday, proposing billions of dollars in spending cuts to most government agencies to pay for large increases in military and homeland security spending, resulting in a 1.2 percent cut in discretionary spending over all. (Source: New York Times)

The tough choices he promised would eliminate longstanding staples of American life.

Gone would be federal financing for public television, the arts and humanities. Federal support for long-distance Amtrak train service would be eliminated. Washington would get out of the business of helping clean up the Chesapeake Bay or the Great Lakes.

While he may not care about East Coast elites upset about ending financing for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, some of the agencies and programs that would be “zeroed out” are institutions in parts of the country that Mr. Trump won last November.

Among the agencies to be cut off, for instance, would be the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state agency founded in 1965 to promote economic development and infrastructure in some of the poorest parts of the United States.

Mr. Trump and his aides argue that many of these programs have long since passed their usefulness or would be better off run and paid for at the state or local level. While he talked about the ravaged inner cities in his Inaugural Address, Mr. Trump would eliminate $3 billion in funding for the Community Development Block Grant program that helps provide affordable housing. The president argued in his budget that “the program is not well targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results.”

Instead of spreading the cost of affordable housing across all of the United States Trump passes the buck to state and local levels, making areas needing affordable housing the most raise taxes and fees to provide affordable housing.

Nice going Mr. Trump. The poor get poorer and the rich get richer. You’re certainly making America Great Again. For the wealthy.

Discretionary spending, in billions

Agency 2017 baseline 2018 proposal Change . Pct change
Environmental Protection Agency $8.2 $5.7 $2.6 –31%
State and other development programs 38.0 27.1 –10.9 –29%
Agriculture 22.6 17.9 –4.7 –21%
Labor 12.2 9.6 –2.5 –21%
Justice 20.3 16.2 –4.0 –20%
Health and Human Services 77.7 65.1 –12.6 –16%
Commerce 9.2 7.8 –1.5 –16%
Education 68.2 59.0 –9.2 –14%
Transportation 18.6 16.2 –2.4 –13%
Housing and Urban Development 36.0 31.7 –4.3 –12%
Interior 13.2 11.6 –1.5 –12%
Energy 29.7 28.0 –1.7 –6%
Treasury 11.7 11.2 –0.5 –4%
NASA 19.2 19.1 –0.2 –1%
Veterans Affairs 74.5 78.9 +4.4 +6%
Homeland Security 41.3 44.1 +2.8 +7%
Defense 521.7 574.0 +52.3 +10%
Note: Totals are shown for fiscal years, which begin in October. They reflect base budget levels for each department, which do not include supplemental money for disaster relief, emergencies or additional war spending. They do include offsetting receipts and proposed changes in mandatory programs (CHIMPS) that are used to offset discretionary spending.

The proposal would also eliminate funding for nearly 20 smaller independent agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Legal Services Corporation, which finances legal aid groups.

The blueprint does not include tax proposals or other revenue ideas, and outlines only proposals for discretionary spending, which is money appropriated annually by Congress. Discretionary spending makes up less than one-third of all federal spending. It does not include interest payments on the federal debt or so-called mandatory spending on large programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Read the more detailed and complete article on the New York Times.

Homeland security intelligence finds little evidence to back Trump travel ban

The Department of Homeland Security was asked to draft a ‘comprehensive report’ on the issue of terror threats from citizens of Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Sudan and Syria. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP

The Department of Homeland Security was asked to draft a ‘comprehensive report’ on the issue of terror threats from citizens of Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Sudan and Syria. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP

Analysts at homeland security’s intelligence arm found insufficient evidence that citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries included in President Donald Trump’s travel ban pose a terror threat to the United States.

A draft document obtained by the Associated Press concludes that citizenship is an “unlikely indicator” of terrorism threats to the United States and that few people from the seven countries have carried out attacks or been involved in terrorism-related activities in the US since Syria’s civil war started in 2011.

Trump cited terrorism concerns as the primary reason he signed the sweeping temporary travel ban in late January, which also halted the US refugee program. In early February, a federal judge in Washington state blocked the government from carrying out the order. Trump said on Friday that a new edict would be announced soon. The administration has been working on a new version that could withstand legal challenges.

A homeland security spokeswoman, Gillian Christensen, on Friday did not dispute the report’s authenticity, but said it was not a final comprehensive review of the government’s intelligence.

“While DHS was asked to draft a comprehensive report on this issue, the document you’re referencing was commentary from a single intelligence source versus an official, robust document with thorough interagency sourcing,” Christensen said. “The … report does not include data from other intelligence community sources. It is incomplete.”

The homeland security report is based on unclassified information from justice department press releases on terrorism-related convictions and attackers killed in the act, state department visa statistics, the 2016 Worldwide Threat Assessment from the US intelligence community and the State Department Country Reports on Terrorism 2015.

The three-page report challenges Trump’s core claims. It said that of 82 people the government determined were inspired by a foreign terrorist group to carry out or try to carry out an attack in the United States, just over half were US citizens born in the United States. The others were from 26 countries, led by Pakistan, Somalia, Bangladesh, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iraq and Uzbekistan. Of these, only Somalia and Iraq were among the seven countries included in the ban.

Of the other five countries, one person each from Iran, Sudan and Yemen was also involved in those terrorism cases, but none from Syria. It did not say if any were Libyan.

Read the complete article on The Guardian newspaper web site.

 

U.S. House and Senate Bills and Resolutions web site.

U.S. Capitol. West Side. Wikimedia.

U.S. Capitol. West Side. Wikimedia.

Ever wonder what the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate are actually doing in the way of writing or passing Bills or Resolutions? Politicians can be a tricky bunch. They’ll distract you with a wave of their right hand while their left hand is lifting your wallet. With Mr. Trump attracting so much attention the actual work of the government is sometimes not as prominent as it should be.

Here are two links for readers interested in keeping track of what your representatives are doing in Washington, or attempting to do. The site is called GovTrack and here is the link to GovTrack’s House and Senate Bills and Resolutions.

I have to confess that more than a few of the Bills and Resolutions make for a dry read. Which probably explains why more than one politician has been caught on camera napping, or absent during the reading.

If you want to know what your government is up to, there’s no place better than checking out where they work and seeing for yourself what they are doing with your tax dollars. When you see something you don’t like or have a question about, call or email or write your representative and try to get an answer.

Here’s one Bill for example.

“A BILL

To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to provide for requirements relating to documentation for major acquisition programs, and for other purposes.”

That seems pretty dry until you scroll down and find,

Major acquisition program defined

In this section, the term major acquisition program means a Department acquisition program that is estimated by the Secretary to require an eventual total expenditure of at least $300,000,000 (based on fiscal year 2017 constant dollars) over its lifecycle cost.

300 Million Dollars? Yikes. That’s for each Department acquisition program. How many programs are there? 20? 50? Heck even 10 programs would mean at least 3 Billion Dollars. A penny here and a penny there and pretty soon we’re talking real money. Here’s the link to his Bill.