The administration’s motto of “America First” may have brought in votes, but what sort of message has it been sending to other nations, especially our allies around the world? Are they seeing us pulling back from the global stage, where we’ve long been the leader – both in terms of military might and in terms of moral right.
The proposed budget – which admittedly is only a proposal at this point – seems to give a mixed picture. Upping the defense budget by ten percent positions us to be an even bigger power in terms of sheer military strength. Do we really need to bolster that might? We’re already big and strong. And at what cost do we need to be even stronger?
The discretionary part of the budget is relatively small compared to the over budget which has spending that can’t be touched – interest payments, money for Social Security, etc. But the cuts proposed, although a very small part of the total we spend, will undo or seriously harm many programs that help make this country great – from programs that feed some of us who need help, to others that help our teachers do a better job to programs that bring art and culture to all of us and not just to those who have access to major cultural institutions.
The proposed budget seems to put many Americans last. Much attention has been given to the cuts to Meals on Wheels, for instance, a program that helps many older people with food and human interaction. But other cuts to the Dept. of Housing will impact the poorer among us who rely on subsidies to keep a roof over their heads.
Cuts to the Dept. of Education threaten programs that provide ongoing training for our nation’s teachers. Money may be diverted to charter and private schools, which do offer alternatives for some people, but at what cost? Remember, some charter schools are operated by for-profit companies, which means some of the money goes into the corporate till and back to shareholders.
The arts are one of the things that makes America great. Destroying the National Endowment for the Arts will put a severe strain on many cultural institutions, especially in smaller cities and towns that don’t have a large donor base to draw from. It will also harm our public broadcasting systems – PBS and NPR -- which provide informative and cultural programming that would be difficult to thrive on commercial channels.
One of the core principles of this great nation is our answer to the Biblical question – Am I my brother’s keeper? Historically, the answer to that has always been “Yes” in how we as a whole pay for programs that help the less fortunate among us. But maybe the “America First” vision of the new administration doesn’t consider those Americans who need a hand. They are not the Americans of power and wealth who, it seems, will be helped “bigly” by tax cuts and changes to the health care system. Ironically, many of those who will be hurt by these changes were conned into voting for the new president last November with his promises to drain the swamp and bring back jobs.
Are we bringing back jobs by cutting 3,200 jobs in just one Federal department – the State Department? Rather than drain any swamp, it may, in fact, risk getting us into quicksand. Top generals have been warning us that the “soft” work of diplomacy very often saves us from the “hard” work of the military that ends up costing billions of dollars and thousands of lives.
Destroying the Environmental Protection Agency and halting research on climate, space and other areas of science is simply short-sighted. And it puts at risk future generations, here and worldwide. Remember, 96 percent of the world’s experts say climate change is real and that it will eventually come back to bite us in the ass if we ignore it.
Cutting wasteful spending is a way to trim budgets. We’ve all heard stories about the $500 hammers the military buys. More money could be found for legitimate military spending by getting a handle on the military’s purchasing procedures.
So with all those cuts, the president still wants to spend $30 billion on his wall, which the Mexicans will NOT pay for. That’s $30 billion that could go to education, food and shelter for the needy, and with maybe a little left for the arts.
The proposed budget, in my opinion, will not make us safer from foreign threats. It will not make life better for most of us in the middle and lower economic classes. It will not help keep us healthy and free from worry about having good healthcare. It will not keep us as the beacon of freedom and moral leadership that we have traditionally been. And it will not make America great.