The “budget lite” that our 45th president submitted is described as a “budget blueprint to make America Great Again.” Submitted in the third week of March, it trumpets draconian cuts in many federal programs, eliminating some that provide important services, including the African Development Foundation, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Inter-American Foundation, the US Trade and Development Agency, the Legal Services Corporation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and many others. The cuts are so unfathomable, and so extremely severe, that even some of 45’s allies are biting back.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, whose daughter Sarah Huckabee Sanders is Deputy White House Press Secretary, has written an op-ed in the Washington Post that argues that the National Endowment for the Arts, which he describes as “just 0.004 percent of the federal budget,” is important. He says that students who participate in the arts have higher grade point averages and standardized test scores. He reminds us that NEA grants went to about 16,000 communities, and that some young people only have access to music and the arts because NEA is in their communities. He also highlights NEA as an “economic driver” because the arts create jobs. Says Huckabee, “the arts are a $730 billion industry, representing 4.2 percent of our gross domestic produc, which equals more than transportation, tourism, or agriculture.” Huckabee, ever the conservative, says he doesn’t want his tax money to fund things that don’t work, but he notes that the $147.9 million allocated to NEA in 2016 is not wasted money.
It seems strange that just 60 days into the game, 45’s head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), former Rep. Mike Mulvaey (R-SC) has deemed many programs “ineffective,” “inefficient,” or “lacking evidence that it is being effectively implemented.” What evaluation has been done? Who has made the determination of inefficiency? Based on these blanket assertions, some Republicans have indicated that the OMB determination is not right. Former Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS), a Republican Party stalwart, says it is short-sighted that 45 would eliminate the McGovern-Dole International Fund for Education program, which provides school meals for children in 40 of the world’s most impoverished nations. Dole told the Washington Post that eliminating the program would “have a disastrous effect on the planet’s most vulnerable children.” He called the program, which he developed with across the aisle Sen. George McGovern (D-SD) as “one of the proudest achievements of his lifetime.” Our 45th president is so eager to provide $54 billion in extra money for the Department of Defense that he is willing to throw a party stalwart’s legacy under the bus.
Meanwhile, the Secret Service has asked for $60 million more this year to protect 45 and his family. Forty-five was a frequent critic of President Barack Obama’s golfing, a pastime that he engages in frequently himself. And he can’t seem to find any golf courses in the D.C. area so he’s back to Mar-a-Largo, where taxpayers spend $3 million every time the president goes to his private resort. Mr. Trump is not trying to tighten the belt he wears; he is only trying to tighten the nation’s.