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Trump: The Department of Education’s Worst Case Scenario

Trump cuts government funding for everyone except military

Miguel Arriola, Intern

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The proposed Trump budget plan is an indicator of how Donald Trump hopes to remake the country. An additional 54 billion dollars will be allocated to military spending. This is being sought in order for the United States to be better prepared for any future wars it may choose to become involved with.

Perhaps by now, some of us have become conditioned to expect war from time to time, but where exactly is the $54 billion supposed to come from?  Simple, from you and me.  Under the proposed budget, the State Department will see significant cuts to its own budget.  This will undoubtedly affect the government’s ability to conduct diplomacy robustly and effectively.  

The current Secretary of Defense James Mattis once warned, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition.”  This statement underscores the reality that a lessened emphasis on diplomacy in tandem with an increased commitment to military expenditures, necessarily increases the likelihood of U.S. soldiers being sent somewhere where they could possibly be wounded or killed to the detriment of their families, friends, and taxpayers.

Less abstract are the cuts expected to hit agencies and programs that directly affect the lives of people living all across the U.S. Cuts to the EPA for example, would impede the agency’s ability to combat air and water pollution, placing public health at risk. In some cases, the cost of treating polluted water could be passed on to consumers.

Other high profile programs that have been mentioned as being at risk of being cut include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (PBS), and food assistance programs such as “Meals on Wheels,” which delivers food to elderly people in need. The current proposed budget is also expected to cut funding to the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as to federal education programs that fund after school programs for children.

“Wings for Kids” is one such after school program. According to a CNN report, the program has 11 chapters in three states, and many of the 1,600 children participating are from low-income households. This after school learning program depends on an annual $1.6 million from an overarching federal program which distributes funds to after school programs around the country from a total yearly allocation of $1.2 billion.

The absence of programs such as “Wings for Kids” will deprive children of an element of structure in their young lives, as a venue of personal growth is closed to them and some are forced to go home to unsupervised homes while their parents work. For single parents going to school in addition to working, this could pose an even greater challenge in their everyday lives and those of their children.

As for the National Endowment for the Arts, dismantling it would be a major blow to the cultural prestige of the United States.  The Endowment has been around since 1965 and has served as a major sponsor for productions featuring excellence in art and music.

In addition to this, a report in the San Francisco Chronicle notes that should the Endowment be shut down, American museums would suffer a great deal.  This is because an attached program known as the Arts and Artifacts Indemnity would lose access to the funds of the Endowment.  Basically, this program uses Endowment funds to cover the large costs of insurance coverage for priceless artwork and artifacts that travels from museum to museum across the country and around the world.  

Jay Xu, Director of the Asian Art Museum said, “Indemnity plays an important role in fostering cultural empathy. Here’s how: It’s expensive to bring the best-of-the-best artworks from Asia, like we did last summer with loans from the National Palace Museum, Taipei. The indemnity program made that exhibition financially feasible, allowing us to introduce elements of Chinese culture to a whole new generation.”

Budget cuts that get rid of funds for after school learning programs where children can make like-minded friends should not come at a time when the military is set to receive $54 billion. Curtailing children’s opportunity to get involved in the arts and music does not make for a cultured public.  

These programs protect children by giving them a safe place to be after school and providing them a positive focus around which they can build themselves up as a person with a discovered talent. The National Endowment for the Arts is necessary for both our own cultural enrichment here in the US, as well as for the advancement of efforts at promoting cultural understanding between peoples.

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