With the resources of the US at hand, President Donald Trump is largely responsible for the fate of the World. Unfortunately, Trump seems unusually inept for bearing such responsibility. Both his ineptness and his personal delusions are reflected in the Trump budget.
In analysing the budget, one must keep in mind that unlike in India, the US executive and its national legislature (congress) are completely separate bodies. While any proposed budget is likely to pass in an executive-controlled Indian legislature; this is not the case in the US. Given the proposals in the budget, it is quite likely that it will not be passed in its current form by the US congress. Nevertheless, the contents of the budget starkly remind us of the goals and motives of this administration, and their complete disjunction with the needs of many of the people who live in the US.
Since its release last month, the budget has come under strong attack from a variety of sources. Multiple problems have been highlighted, most significantly, the move to increase defence spending by $54 billion and corollary cuts in other units of government. These cuts aim at some of the most essential and heretofore successful programmes of the US administration, especially those catering to the most deprived classes of US society.
Trump’s budget proposes an increase of almost 10% in defence spending, making the amount a large $639 billion. This increase is being pitched at a time when the international community is focused on preventing more armed conflict. Modern warfare mainly means dead soldiers and broken families. Trump’s exaggerated delusions about the threat of Islamic terrorism seem to be the rationale behind this move. Take those delusions away and there is really nothing to support this massive budget shift, especially since the US already spends more on defence than the next seven large-spending countries combined.
The Environmental Protection Agency is slated for a 31% cut that will leave the department with the lowest funding it has received in 40 years. These cuts focus on the Clean Power Plan and international climate change commitments made by the US, and will also result in the discontinuation of approximately 50 other programmes aimed at fighting climate change. For instance, the cuts will end the Global Climate Change Initiative. The commerce department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will lose $250 million – money which goes towards conducting climate change research.
A $900 million cut to the energy department’s Office of Science has also been proposed in the budget, along with the elimination of programmes that provide loans and early-stage funding to companies working on clean energy and clean vehicles.
The logical reason behind these cuts seems to be Trump’s belief that climate change is a hoax and his complete disregard for the threats it poses. But what is the reason for this dogged belief against climate change? Is it merely a state-level representation of climate scepticism or is it a manifestation of vested oil-corporation interests? Whatever the case may be, Trump’s actions may irreparably damage the world we live in. His failed logic, based on a false premise, may possibly unravel all the good work undertaken by the Obama administration in collaboration with the international community.
Besides withdrawing funding from environment-related concerns, the budget also proposes cuts to programmes that cater to the most needy sections of US society. Programmes like the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; the Legal Services Corporation; the Community Development Block Grant; the school lunch programme and the Appalachian Regional Commission, to name a few, will suffer from the proposed slashing of funds. These programmes, in the order listed, provide baby formula and healthy foods to poor mothers with young children; funding for legal aid groups which support the poor in civil cases; assistance to local governments with programmes for the elderly like Meals on Wheels; providing schoolchildren with at least one healthy meal per day; and job creation and welfare promotion in the poor Appalachian region. The Trump budget also includes a 12% cut to the Department of Interior, which will impede the proper maintenance of national parks and monuments under its purview.
At the same time, the Trump administration plans to improve the lot of the wealthy by cutting their taxes.
Born out of a complete disregard for the poor and the state’s refusal to take on the responsibility of caring for the destitute, these cuts are cruel to say the least. The Trump budget seems to go out of its way to counter-act the efforts of programmes that have provided benefits for people across the board. If the Trump budget passes in its current form, the goals of the collective consciousness of the world – peace, environmental protection, scientific endeavour and caring for the least advantaged – will suffer a major setback. One can only hope that if this does happen, it will be met by strong backlash and these programmes will emerge stronger in their efforts to secure a better world for everyone.
Armin Rosencranz is a professor of law at Jindal Global University, Sonipat, where Pranay Modi is a law student.