Mar 17, 2017 by

Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, speaks about President Donald Trump’s $1.1 trillion spending plan during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, March 16, 2017. (Photo: Al Drago / The New York Times)Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, speaks about President Donald Trump’s $1.1 trillion spending plan during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, March 16, 2017. (Photo: Al Drago / The New York Times)

Fifteen major government departments would see their funding cut, and 19 agencies would be completely eliminated under the proposed budget released by the White House on Thursday.

The preliminary document calls for massive spending reductions at the Environmental Protection Agency, the State Department, the Agricultural Department, and the Labor Department. All would see more than a fifth of their budget go up in smoke.

The cutbacks finance significant spending increases at three departments: Defense (up 9 percent), Homeland Security (up 7 percent), and Veterans’ Affairs (up 6 percent). Those investments would help boost the size of the US military and its war machines, put a $2.6 billion down payment on construction of a Southern border wall, and fund a $4.4 billion investment to modernize healthcare for veterans.

Other new spending includes $1.4 billion to promote privatized education, increased funding for combating opioid addiction, and more dollars to adjudicate immigration removal efforts.

The blueprint pertains only to discretionary spending, and doesn’t address mandatory expenditures like entitlement programs and interest payments on the debt.

Other departments facing cuts include Health and Human Services, with a proposed 18 percent reduction that includes a 19 percent decrease in National Institutes of Health spending.

Commerce, Education, Housing, Transportation, and Interior are also looking at double-digit percentage downsizing, thanks to cutbacks in programs like economic grants to struggling cities, food assistance to needy families, affordable housing grants, and new transit projects.

The 29 percent cut to the State Department focuses on eliminating climate change programs and reducing funding for peacekeeping missions.

At the EPA, more than 50 programs and 3,500 jobs would be eliminated under President Trump’s proposal.

Meanwhile within the Labor Department, which is looking at a 21 percent spending cut, programs that help low-income seniors and disadvantaged youth find work would be slashed, in order to increase spending on initiatives to identify people receiving improper unemployment benefit payments.

The budget blueprint completely eliminates one billion dollars in funding for arts and culture programs. The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would all be shuttered.

Other programs that would be scrapped wholesale by Trump’s budget include the Legal Services Corporation, which provides legal assistance to low-income citizens. The US Institute of Peace, the Chemical Safety Board, and the African Development Foundation would all be eliminated, too.

Mick Mulvaney, the Director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) claimed the blueprint reflects President’ Trump’s campaign promises. “If [Trump] said it in the campaign, it’s in the budget,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) panned the proposal after its release. “President Trump is not making anyone more secure with a budget that hollows out our economy and endangers working families,” she said.

“Throwing billions at defense while ransacking America’s investments in jobs, education, clean energy and lifesaving medical research will leave our nation weakened,” Pelosi added.

The proposed budget is for spending next year. Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill are currently fighting over spending levels this year, with the government set to run out of money on April 28, and GOP leadership trying to move appropriations bills to keep the lights on.

The Democratic Leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) threatened that his party may consider shutting down the government if Republicans attempt to include border wall funding in their appropriations package.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Sam Sacks

Sam Sacks is a writer and reporter based in Washington, DC. He is the cofounder of The District Sentinel.

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