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The pointy end of governing

As Donald Trump gets down to the pointy end of governing, the White House will today reveal his “skinny budget”, described as more a policy direction than a fiscal statement.

Reportedly, he intends to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent from $8.2 billion to $5.7 billion, its lowest level in 40 years, adjusted for inflation.

The blueprint will cut State Department spending by a similar amount, 28-31%. The cuts include drastic reductions in the 60-year-old State Department Food for Peace Program, which sends food to poor countries hit by war or natural disasters, and the elimination of the Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Service program, which subsidizes flights to rural airports, although the White House instructed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to leave untouched the $3 billion annual foreign aid payment to Israel.

In addition to the cuts at the E.P.A. and the State Department, Mr. Trump’s team is expected to propose a wide array of cuts to public education, to transportation programs like Amtrak and to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, including the complete elimination of the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, which funds popular programs like Meals on Wheels, housing assistance and other community assistance efforts.

Federally funded arts programs are on the chopping block. Trump’s budget is also expected to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports PBS, NPR, and other public TV and radio outlets. Its annual budget stands at less than $500 million.

Meanwhile, in his first month in office, Trump wasted $15 million of taxpayers’ money playing golf at his resort in Mar-a-lago.

The president would funnel $54 billion in additional funding into defense programs, beef up immigration enforcement and significantly reduce the nondefense federal work force to further the “deconstruction of the administrative state,” in the words of Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon.

A broader budget will be released later in the spring that will include Mr. Trump’s proposals for taxation as well as the bulk of government spending – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlement programs.

One can only imagine the joys that will confront Trump’s ‘common man’ supporters then. Trump’s own words, “Who knew healthcare was so complicated,” don’t instill a great deal of confidence.

As with here, there is no money for health, education, community support programs, the environment and action on climate change, or the arts, but we have endless funds for ‘national security’.

With promised tax cuts in the mix, it will be very interesting to see how Trump’s band of amateurs make the figures stack up presuming they ever do produce a real budget. It ain’t gonna be pretty.


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  1. Keitha Granville

    He will slash and burn, meanwhile conducting supporter rallies (at taxpayers exepnse -wonder if they figured that out) and tellin everyone how well he’s doing. Presidency by tweet.
    Sadly by the time anyone wakes up to him, the country will be a disaster zoem, with hundreds of thousands of people impoverished and ill with no support. They have precious little at the moment, god help them in a year’s time.
    I wonder if the Republican Congress is beginning to realise their first opinion of him was the right one.

  2. Peter F

    For ‘defence’ read ‘attack’.

  3. silkworm

    Only the states can waste taxpayers’ money. At the federal level, taxes do not fund anything.

  4. Kaye Lee

    We can have this discussion till the cows come home silkworm. You talk about potential rather than reality. The reality is that every year, the amount spent by our government is equal to taxation (and some other revenue) plus the bonds issued. They cover deficit spending by borrowing. They don’t have to but they do. Endlessly saying they don’t doesn’t change the fact that they do. The US is indeed different in that they did create a whole heap of new money but they used it to bail companies out.

  5. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Trump and his bunch of bozos in his administration have one simple plan. Impoverish and sicken the general population, so the pesky weak and sick are removed and only the well-resourced survive .

    Trump has never pretended any different because he thinks they won’t be around to condemn him.

    That’s why it’s immensely important for the sleeping amongst the American People to stir from their slumber and the disappointed Progressives to lick their wounds and re-galvanise against Trump and his debauchery.

  6. Keith

    Trump does not have insight into his policies he is promoting; he warned Americans about a super storm; information provided by satellite, he proposes to defund the very Agency that provides such information.

    Something that is gratifying is Premier Weatherill standing up to Frydenberg and Turnbull in relation to energy. It is a matter of privatisation of energy in South Australia by the Liberals having come back to haunt them.

  7. paulwalter

    An expert on tonight’s Drum suggested that Trump’ s aggressive “for or against” administration would be disruptive for the region and for Australia.

  8. Kaye Lee


    I also found Weatherill’s honesty refreshing.

    Frydenberg then said “the Australian people will be disappointed with a senior politician acting that way.” Wrong Josh. The Australian people are sick of sick of smarmy Coalition ministers lying to us with a smile. You got exactly what you deserved.

  9. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    LIke I said @5.23pm,

    the LNP are happy to emulate Trumpism’s crimes against the populace.

    They will be hauled up in front of the People’s Court once sanity of democratic socialism prevails again.

    We in Australia, can’t make America do as we want, but we can force Malcolm Muck’s pretenders to succumb when they realise they are just empty vessels.

  10. Arthur Tarry

    Yes, so much of so-called policy development in Australia, by both major parties, is simply imported from other places, either Europe or the USA. We will probably see a lot on the looney right here just aping Trumpisms or ingratiating themselves with his team. Remember ‘all the way with LBJ’.

  11. Harquebus

    “Here’s the reality: Trump is a weak, indecisive, confused, not very well informed, corrupt, vacillating, pompous, self-enriching, narcissistic, sociopathic, bloviating, lying, not-ready-for-prime-time, suck ass buffoon. (By contrast with Hillary Clinton, who is merely a satanic, psychopathic, endlessly criminally devious, pathological lying, serial murdering, war mongering demon from the pits of hell.)”
    “If Trump doesn’t immediately use the Wikileaks CIA data dump to go Medieval on the CIA’s ass and ruthlessly clean house at Langley, from top to bottom, and also arrange some sort of pardon or clemency or immunity from prosecution for Julian Assange, then he is obviously in on the rigged game of Them versus Us and must henceforth be treated as one of Them, and not one of Us.”
    “See, the so-called “government” is really a corporation and its job is to f*ck you in the *ss, all the while telling you that it is your patriotic duty to love every second and ask for more.”

    Debt brings future spending to the present. Unfortunately, borrowers of the past have beaten us to it.


  12. Kaye Lee

    the budget is the third time in a matter of weeks that Trump has screwed his voters – first on protection for their retirement planning, then in his makeover of Obamacare, and now wanting to slash programs by which they get affordable housing, banking, weatherizing homes, job training, paying home heating oil bills, and legal advise in civil matters.

    But defence get an extra $US54 billion, while as many as 20 other agencies would feel the knife – with cuts of more than 20 per cent for Agriculture, Labour and the State Department; and a crippling 30-plus per cent for the Environmental Protection Agency – which would lose 50 programs and 3200 jobs.

    Contributions to the United Nations would be cut and Washington would pay no more that 25 per cent of the cost of international peacekeeping ventures. It’s funding for development banks like the World Bank would be pared by $US650 million.

    The National Endowment for the Arts, the US Institute of Peace, the Chemical Safety Board, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and a $US430 million training program for nurses and other health professionals would be eliminated. Work on climate change and medical research would shrink dramatically.

    As Trump’s budget fattened the national security apparatus, rural communities would no longer get grants and loans for water facilities and local airports. After-school and summer programs would go unfunded; and home energy aid, job training programs and legal services would get the chop.

    But the Mexican border wall, which Trump insisted Mexico would pay for? That’s in there – $US1.7 billion in new funding this year and another $US2.6 billion next year.

    in a withering statement, former House Appropriations Committee chairman and Republican Hal Rogers said: “I am disappointed that many of the reductions and eliminations proposed in the president’s skinny budget are draconian, careless and counterproductive. We will certainly review this budget proposal, but Congress ultimately has the power of the purse.”

  13. John L

    Lovely descriptions Harquebus……may I use them elsewhere?

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