On its surface Trump’s second budget proposal released Monday bolsters military spending while it will leave Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps in tatters.
It was hard not to think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech he delivered at Riverside Church a year before his assassination. At that time, with the Vietnam War raging, he said, “A nation that continues year after year to spend money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
That imminent “spiritual death” is at the heart of Trump’s $4.4 trillion 2019 budget plan, and the numbers leap from the pages. Most alarming, the plan will raise military spending by 14.1 percent while funding for the State Department will be slashed by 26.9 percent. Moreover, the Department of Health and Human Services is slated to be cut by 20.3 percent and the already besieged Department of Education by 10.5 percent.
And to add insult to injury, the plan will cut $213 billion from food stamps, and once again push for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
One of the first Democrats to respond to Trump’s plan was Sen. Patrick Leahy, of Vermont, who is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Once again there is no fiscal, strategic or pragmatic justification for these arbitrary cuts,” he said. “It is divorced from America’s real-world security interests, and it would continue the Trump administration’s full-on retreat from American global leadership. In the name of ‘efficiency’ this budget slashes funding for the very operations and programs that support U.S. global leadership and influence on which the security of the American people depends.”
Plus, the proposed budget plunges the government into an even deeper deficit, assuring Trump’s infamous title as the “king of debt.”
Several other changes strike at the heart of the nation’s dispossessed. Reductions are planned in Section 8 federal housing subsides; the $1.9 billion set aside to fund public housing capital repairs will be eliminated. Facing elimination, too, is the Community Relations Service, an office created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to resolve and ease tensions in communities embroiled in conflicts of race, religion, gender and other factors.
The budget, as devised, is destined to mutilate the recent bipartisan budget by Congress, and it is sure to meet some resistance once it arrives in the chambers.
What appears ironic in this plan is that the group of people who supported Trump, believed in his promises, will be the first to feel the brunt of these cuts, the removal of the safety nets.
As Dr. King said near the close of the famous Riverside Church speech, “We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now,” and it will probably get worse before it gets better. Our nation veers closer and closer to that “spiritual death.”