EDITORIAL: Trump's budget for 'Bitter America'

The York Dispatch Editorial Board
US President Donald Trump arrives to speak after touring the Lima Army Tank Plant at Joint Systems Manufacturing in Lima, Ohio, March 20, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

The Trump administration’s $4.7 trillion Fiscal Year 2020 spending blueprint was published as a volume titled “A Budget for a Better America.”

“Bitter America” is more like it; its priorities ought to leave an awfully bad taste in the mouths of all but the well-connected.

The spending plan would give a hefty boost to defense and national-security programs while torpedoing nearly all manner of social spending. It is a budget reflective of a president — and, increasingly, a party — incapable of seeing beyond self-interest.

The budget priorities are disappointing but hardly surprising. Having rewarded corporations and moneyed interests via a massive tax cut, the president and his congressional facilitators — the complacent, compliant Republicans in Congress — have cemented their reputations as the party of the 1%.

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The results were felt anew just this past Monday, Tax Day. While business interests and the wealthiest of the wealthy rejoiced in a new, fat cat-friendly tax code, many middle-class workers, deprived of dependable income-lowering tools like mortgage-interest deductions, forked over more to Uncle Sam.

The massive tax cuts for the wealthy are permanent and projected by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to add some $1.5 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years. The middle- and lower-class tax-cut crumbs won’t contribute anything to the national debt in 10 years — they will have sunsetted by then.

Such are the priorities of Trump & Co. And they are, if anything, magnified in the latest spending proposals.

Defense spending would increase by 5% — never mind that the U.S. already spends three times as much on its military as the next closest nation, China, and at least 10 times more than most other developed nations.

Social safety-net programs, on the other hand, would go begging. A proposed 9% cut in such spending would include slashes to the food stamp program, state welfare block grants, disability benefits and the like.

Republicans’ hostility to science is reflected in massive cuts to science programs.

Their disdain for media that do not kowtow to their worldview is reflected in a measure — the third time it’s been introduced — to entirely defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Their general disinterest in the less well-off is reflected in proposals such as one that would cease funding for the Legal Services Corp., a nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 that helps to ensure that low-income people have civil legal representation.

That lack of empathy was magnified by the still-unresolved disaster relief bill, stalled over Trump’s opposition to more aid for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

Even the Special Olympics has found itself in the GOP’s budget-cutting crosshairs.

Is this a “Better America”? Maybe for the 1% and the party that does its bidding, but one would have to be short on conscience and long on questionable justification skills to wallow in these inequities.

On the plus side, with Democrats now controlling the House, the type of rule-bending, one-party legislating that crammed those massive — and massively unfair — tax cuts through Congress are a thing of the past.

Of concern: This administration thinks nothing of side-stepping normal political (and legal) requirements. Consider how the president has opted to simply name “acting” Cabinet members, foregoing the necessity of Senate approval. So, who knows what mean-spirited machinations may be in store?

One thing is for certain, regardless of how many of its spending proposals become enacted, the president and his budget supporters have stated unequivocally whom they want to make America better for. And the odds are 100-to-1 it isn’t you.