A Disastrous Budget

Published: Thu, 03/23/2017 - 10:54

The proposed Trump budget will have catastrophic consequences

Hardnews Bureau Delhi

Consider a few numbers: 122 million (the number of children’s lives saved through vaccines and nutrition), 300 million (the number of women in the developing world using modern contraceptives, up 50 percent from 2003), 35 (the number of polio cases recorded in the last decade). Extreme poverty has been cut in half over the last 25 years. That’s a big accomplishment that ought to make everyone more optimistic. But almost no one knows about it. These numbers owe their existence to American intervention and foreign aid. If American President Donald Trump and Steve Bannon were to be asked, then they would retort that this foreign aid came at the expense of American growth. This is a fallacious argument, to say the least, one among many fallacious arguments that prop up the proposed federal budget that the Trump administration has released. Not only will the Trump administration’s proposal to slash USAID budget by 36 percent — from $58.8 billion to $37.6 billion will have a detrimental impact on global health, it will also severely impede American attempts to fight ISIS. Reconstruction efforts in areas taken back from ISIS will grind to a halt if USAID has no budget. In the absence of governing mechanisms, terrorist organisations like ISIS will only find it easier to reclaim lost territory. This is a classic case of being penny-wise and pound foolish.

The blueprint of the budget was formulated by Trump’s budget director based on his campaign speeches. Take a pause and reflect on that aforementioned sentence: an entire nation's fiscal priorities are being decided based on the incoherent ramblings that Trump made on the campaign trail. The budget blueprint reflects this idiocy. 19 federal agencies face the prospect of a 100 percent budget cut i.e. extinction. The budget proposes to completely defund the Legal Services Corporation. The Legal Services Corporation was created in 1974 with strong bipartisan support, including from then-President Richard Nixon. The Legal Services Corporation distributes its funding to 133 independent nonprofit legal aid programs with more than 800 offices. These legal aid offices provide legal assistance in non-criminal cases to people who live in households with annual incomes at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, a category that includes almost one in five Americans or about 65 million people. In other words, Trump’s proposed budget would ensure that the poorest of Americans who can’t afford an attorney will be deprived of timely legal representation. Women in domestic violence situations will lack judicial protection from their abusers. Those facing wrongful eviction or foreclosure will have nowhere to turn. Children in foster care will have no one to represent them. There is a stark irony at play here: Trump had promised throughout his campaign that forgotten Americans will not be forgotten anymore. Yet here he is proposing that the poor should not get equal access to the justice system.

Perhaps most perverse of all is the gutting of the Environment Protection Agency(EPA). A 31 percent cut in the Environmental Protection Agency budget, from $8.2 billion down to $5.7 billion, the lowest level (after adjusting for inflation) in 40 years and below where even congressional Republicans wanted it. More than 50 programs would be eliminated, as would 3,200 jobs. Specifically, the budget "discontinues funding for the Clean Power Plan, international climate change programs, climate change research and partnership programs, and related efforts.” In other words, the Trump budget seeks to scrap any efforts to combat climate change. This must not come as a surprise as Trump has for a long time been a climate change denier. A few weeks ago, Scott Pruitt, the head of EPA remarked that Carbon-dioxide is not a contributor to global warming, an opinion that is at odds with the prevailing scientific consensus.

In a nutshell, what the Trump budget proposes to do is halt any progress made on global health challenges, ensure that terrorism has fertile ground to take roots in, deprive the poorest of Americans from accessing the justice system and worst of all fast track the whole world towards a climate change apocalypse.

The proposed Trump budget will have catastrophic consequences
Hardnews Bureau Delhi

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