For those of us who sit anywhere from the middle to the left politically, the Trump administration has been troubling to us from day one. Even before day one. We were worried by the rhetoric on the campaign trail and we continue to be worried with every breaking headline that comes out of the White House during the coverage of the first 100 days. The same has not been true, however, for the Trump supporters and for those in ‘middle America’ who don’t pay that much attention to politics and who may not have an understanding of politics in our country. That’s all about to change, though, if Congress passes Trump’s new budget blueprint [Here’s how the federal budget process works in case you are curious]. Some of so called ‘middle America’ has pushed back about the changes to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it is called, because they never knew exactly how it could impact their lives so negatively. But that’s about all of the push back that we’ve seen from the Trump base so far.
So far we have seen baseless allegations, rhetoric, overspending on travel and security, governing by way of executive order, and so much more come out of the Trump White House. We’ve also seen a major uptick in Hate Groups throughout the country since Trump announced his candidacy [See Here]. While these these things are troublesome, they haven’t directly impacted those who don’t care about them, choose to ignore them, or aren’t a member of a group that’s directly affected by them. This new budget would, though, and I thought it would be worth taking a look at how it would directly impact the people in the rural Alabama town of 1440 residents that I graduated high school in. This is an area where virtually everyone voted for Donald Trump. These are die to the will Trump supporters and I would venture to say that even though they might be negatively impacted by these budget cuts, that still might not change.
So how, then, will these people be affected? Well there are three ways, primarily. In this small town there is only one school. It covers grades K-12 and is essentially the driving force in the community. Everyone rallies around the football team on Friday nights in the fall, and around all of the other teams during the rest of the year. The school is the glue that ties the community together because most of its residents have children there, or attended the school themselves. One of the major programs that the school offers is the 21st Century Community Learning Center program that provides after-school programs designed to give students a place to go after the school day is over to do homework, be tutored, and work on special projects to help enhance their educational experience. The program is paid for by grant money. That money pays the instructors and administrators as well as the student workers who make the program happen. It buys snacks for the students participating in the programs and it pays for the paper and other resources used in the program. The 21st Century Community Learning Center program is a federal program that disburses grant money to states and allows them to allocate that money to qualifying centers throughout the state. My high school just happens to be one of those centers and for the many parents who depend on this program as a safe place for their child to be after-school until they get off of work, the program is invaluable. President Trump’s new budget blueprint, however, defunds the 21st Century Community Learning Center program, along with many other programs and departments, in an effort to offset the astronomical spending increase that he has requested for our nation’s military. Without these grants, the program would not exist in this small town and the children and parents alike would suffer from it’s not being offered.
Another vital program in the area is the county-wide Meals On Wheels program that provides meals for elderly and disabled people who qualify based on income. The Agency on Aging in this county is responsible for distributing these meals and the meals are funded on the state level. The only issue here is that the state gets that money from the federally funded Community Development Block Grant. The CDBG allocates the money to the state and the state has the ultimate decision in what programs it wants to fund with the money. For years, though, the state of Alabama has decided to fund programs like Meals on Wheels to its impoverished residents. The Trump budget blueprint also defunds the CDBG, though, which would, in turn, mean that the Meals on Wheels program in our county would cease to exist. The Agency on Aging here has already received notification that if this budget passes, the program will be terminated. This will leave hundreds of residents here without meals that they desperately need and have no other way of receiving. When pressed about this aspect of the budget in a White House Press Conference today, Mick Mulvaney, Director of the U.S. Office of Management & Budget, stated that the U.S. Government has no proof that these programs are effective in helping citizens and that it is unfair to ask taxpayers to continue to fund programs that do not work. I wish that Mr. Trump and Mr. Mulvaney could take a trip to this rural part of Alabama and sit and talk with some of these elderly and disabled folks who, without doubt, voted for him. They need these meals and they deserve a better explanation as to why The White House is trying to take these meals away from them.
As if those two weren’t impactful enough, there is one other program that is being defunded in Trump’s new budget blueprint that might have an even bigger impact. The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund provides grants to Federally recognized CDFI Banks and other Financial Institutions who provide services to the unbanked or underbanked in high poverty areas. These financial institutions are afforded funds that they can use to mitigate risk when opening deposit accounts and loans for customers who might not otherwise be able to qualify for such accounts. There is a prominent financial institution, one of only 2 institutions total in the town that I graduated in, who relies heavily on funds from CDFI grants to help those in need in the community. It provides loans to help rebuild credit and classes to help explain personal finance and the steps that people can take to better manage the resources that they have. Without these grants, these institutions cannot fund these programs and therefore, cannot serve the banking and financial needs of the residents here. This means that loans to help pay for emergencies like a broken car or the burial of a loved one will carry much too high risk for CDFI banks and they will not be able to help people when they need it the most. None of this seems to be of concern for the Trump Administration, though. He and his administration are throwing all of these programs and departments by the wayside in the name of increased military spending.
So why worry about all of this if it still has to go through Congress? Simple. Congress <3’s Trump. We have a republican majority in Congress at this point, and in the 50 some odd days that he has been Commander-In-Chief, they have supported him wholeheartedly, even when they shouldn’t have. I realize that there are dissenting views, even in his own party, but on the whole, Trump has garnered the support of the majority to date. So we can safely deduce that when the appropriations go before their subcommittees, a majority of the plan that Trump has outlined will move forward and may become the budget of these great United States.
One can’t help but wonder if Trump is ramping up the military because he knows that inevitably he will piss off an adversary and we will find ourselves in another large scale war that our current military is too small to win. Regardless of his motives, he is making good on a campaign promise to ramp up the military and to run the country like he would a business. He has gone in, seen “feel good” programs that he deems non-essential, and he is slashing them without regard for the millions of people that depend on them each and every day. I encourage you to stay tuned to news sources over the coming months as his detailed budget plan will be unveiled in May. This should give us some indication of exactly how he plans to proceed. It’s never too early to start writing to your elected representatives, though. Express concerns that you have about the elimination of these and other programs, even if you are a Trump supporter. You can still support the president without agreeing with everything that he says or does. If you’d like to read more about the programs and departments that are being cut in this new budget, I suggest you check out this article from CNN. It’s a bulleted list of everything that’s being cut and it even separates out those that are being completely defunded.