Cadiz, KY

Opinion

Proposed budget cuts could prove devastating

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - Updated: 2:09 AM
BY MARY GARRISON MINYARD mgarrison@cadizrecord.com

President Donald Trump on Thursday released his 2018 budget proposal, which outlines a number of cuts to discretionary spending in favor of policies he espoused during a rather controversial campaign.

Three departments -- Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security and the Department of Defense -- manage to come out with a rather improved outlook than in previous years. Trump has proposed a 9 percent hike to the defense budget, 7 percent to Homeland Security and 6 percent to Veterans Affairs. While these are, in fact, crucial components to the overall well-being of our country, I can't help but feel that this proposed budget leaves programs just as critical out in the cold in favor of some ridiculous suggestions.

In particular, Trump earmarks funding for the construction of a border wall between the U.S. southern states and Mexico, a proposal that most analysts have agreed will be unnecessarily costly and largely ineffective in combating illegal immigration practices. The vast majority of immigrants in the country illegally didn't jump the border, they are residents here on expired visas, a fact Trump has declined to acknowledge in favor of "Making America great again."

But if you cut the kind of social programs he's proposing Congress cut in favor of something he incorrectly asserts will be paid for by the Mexican government rather than our great-grandchildren (as is far more likely to happen), I hardly see it as making America anything but a disaster.

Federal funding for the Environmental Protection Agency -- which has become the punching bag for several industries in recent years -- would be cut by 31 percent under the proposed budget; the state department by 29 percent; agriculture by 21 percent; health and human services by 18 percent; public education by 14 percent; department of Housing and Urban Development by 13 percent â ¦ the list continues.

Nineteen agencies would lose federal funding altogether, including some that we here in Cadiz would feel directly like the Delta Regional Authority, which provides critical economic development assistance through offices like the Pennyrile Area Development District. According to DRA statistics, States' Economic Development Assistance Program "investments emphasize job creation, regional collaboration, and health and safety for communities. The DRA has leveraged its $138.4 million of federal-state investments into nearly $3 billion in public and private investment into community-based and regional projects -- investments that have helped to create and retain 26,000 jobs, train more than 7,200 Delta workers for 21st century jobs, and connect nearly 65,000 families to clean water and/or sewer service" from 2002 to 2015.

Community Development Block Grants would be pretty much a thing of the past. CDBG initiatives have made very real impacts in virtually every community of which I've been a part. That new water plant in Cadiz? Funded largely by CDBG. Renovations to the Cadiz Transportation Museum? CDBG funds.

And let's talk about my least favorite proposed funding cut (though there are many I loathe): the Public Broadcasting System.

That's right, like Mitt Romney and others before him, Trump wants to fire Big Bird.

OK, that's a broad way of looking at it, but still. Eliminating PBS would eviscerate small local TV and radio stations across the country -- people dedicated to keeping their public informed-- not to mention putting the hammer down on Sesame Street.

I grew up on Sesame Street. Learned numbers, letters and valuable life lessons about kindness and acceptance with Big Bird, Burt and Ernie. Granted, they were lessons I learned in the home as well, but I'd much rather my daughter take up with Elmo than some of the other garbage found on cable.

There are too many holes in this proposal to count. I won't even get into the devastating cuts to school lunch programs. Though I will say I would much rather feed a hungry kid who may not get to eat unless he or she is at school than I would pony up funds for some stupid wall.

A friend of mine said, "when you cut social programs of this magnitude, you cut the heart out of America. When you cut the heart out of America, it ceases to be."

Sadly, I'm inclined to agree.

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