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Trump's budget reveals his priorities by Julianne Malveaux

2/21/2020, 6 a.m.
If you tell me how you spend your money, I can tell you what your values are. You say you ...
Julianne Malveaux

If you tell me how you spend your money, I can tell you what your values are. You say you are a Christian, but neither tithe nor have a church home. You say you support civil rights, but have no connection to a civil rights organization. You say you love your alma mater, but never contribute to the place.

Put your money where your mouth is. Budgets are reflections of values. Thus, I was unsurprised with the budget our 45th president proposed to Congress on Feb. 10.

His budget cuts domestic programs, maintains defense spending and targets poor people. It cuts education, housing and environmental protection. It would eliminate our arts and cultural agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

No. 45’s hostility to poor people is reflected in reductions in Medicaid, food stamps and the CHIP program, which provides health care for poor children. And while he is starving poor people, he insists on preserving the 2017 tax cuts that mostly benefited the wealthy.

I’m not surprised that No. 45 maintains his hostility to the poor. We’ve seen this in the previous budgets that he has presented to Congress. He favors cuts in domestic spending, increases in military spending, a wall that he has directed the Pentagon to fund and indifference to the environment.

His budget shows contempt for the planet and its survival. No. 45 would cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by more than a quarter and even more with environmental initiatives that are embedded in other budgets. For example, with our crumbling infrastructure, No. 45’s budget cuts the federal Transportation Department by 13 percent, cutting highway infrastructure programs and transit grants. The U.S. Department of the Interior would shoulder a 13 percent cut, reducing land acquisition, conservation and assistance for Native American tribes.

This administration’s hostility toward environmental protection is evidenced by the fact that Mandy Gunasekara, who spearheaded the rollback of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, is returning to the EPA as chief of staff this spring. She has advocated scaling back rules on greenhouse emissions and is credited with urging No. 45 to leave the Paris climate accord.

Until 2017, the world looked toward the United States for global leadership. But this most recent budget would reduce our involvement in world affairs. The U.S. State Department and USAID would be cut by $12 billion, more than a fifth less than last year. Virtually everything in the USAID and State Department budgets is reduced.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is the only cabinet agency that will experience a double-digit budget increase of 12 percent. After a series of scandals involving the poor delivery of health services to the nation’s veterans, few would dispute the need for a stronger agency. But one wonders if the $12 billion increase in this agency’s budget will improve efficiency, or if it is merely pandering to veterans, a core part of the president’s base.

NASA is another agency that gets a double-digit budget increase, partly to fund space exploration. The Defense Department budget remains relatively flat, with an increase at just one-tenth of one percent.