Bud­get cuts in May wither in Sept.

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - OPINION - The fol­low­ing editorial ap­peared in the St. Louis PostDis­patch on Fri­day.

Back in May, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump un­veiled his 2018 bud­get to a lot of wail­ing and gnash­ing of teeth. Key sen­a­tors and con­gress­men de­clared it dead on ar­rival, which was their way of declar­ing they were far from em­brac­ing Trump’s “Make Amer­ica Great Again” pop­ulist fer­vor.

Sure enough. As Congress puts the fin­ish­ing touches on ap­pro­pri­a­tions mea­sures for the fis­cal year that be gins Oct. 1, very few of Trump’s rec­om­men­da­tions have sur­vived. For all that Amer­i­cans com­plain about federal spend­ing, they don’t want to see im­por­tant pro­grams cut.

Con­sider the Se­nate bill ap­proved by the Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee ear­lier this month to fund the de­part­ments of La­bor, Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, and Ed­u­ca­tion. Trump’s bud­get would have ze­roed out the Ed­u­ca­tion De­part­ment’s $445 mil­lion an­nual fund­ing for the Cor­po­ra­tion for Pub­lic Broad­cast­ing. That’s a mere 0.01 per­cent of the federal bud­get, with most of the money go­ing to 1,400 pub­lic tele­vi­sion and ra­dio sta­tions around the coun­try. But at­tacks on pub­lic broad­cast­ing are painted as at­tacks on Big Bird and “Sesame Street,” and it al­ways sur­vives. It did so again this year.

Trump’ s bud­get would have cut fund­ing for pub­lic schools by $9.2 bil­lion and be gun a $1 bil­lion school choice and voucher pro­gram. The ap­pro­pri­a­tions com­mit­tee voted that down 29-2.

Trump also wanted to make cuts to pro­grams that help stu­dents af­ford col­lege. The ap­pro­pri­a­tors boosted spend­ing on most of them, in­clud­ing rais­ing the max­i­mum P ell Grant for low­in­come stu­dents by $100 to $6,020. Plus the com­mit­tee re­stored Pell Grant el­i­gi­bil­ity for stu­dents who were de­frauded by ac­cred­ited for­profit col­leges that have closed. The un­ac­cred­ited and now-de­funct Trump Univer­sity was not el­i­gi­ble for Pell Grant stu­dents.

Among the most egre­gious of Trump’s bud­get pro­pos­als in May were to cut med­i­cal re­search fund­ing at the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health by 18 per­cent and whack 14 per­cent of the core bud­get of the Cen­ters for Disease Con­trol.

How­ever, many mem­bers of Congress rep­re­sent dis­tricts or states with uni­ver­si­ties where NIH grants pay for biomed­i­cal re­search. The phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try, which counts on NIH fund­ing for much of the ba­sic re­search for new drugs and treat­ments, has many friends on Capi­tol Hill.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo ., chair­man of the La­bor, Health and Ed­u­ca­tion ap­pro­pri­a­tions sub­com­mit­tee, boasted on the Se­nate floor that for the third straight year his sub­com­mit­tee had in­creased re­search fund­ing at NIH by $2 bil­lion.

Alzheimer’ s disease re­searchers and agen­cies that com­bat opi­oid abuse will re­ceive big boosts. More is needed, but this is a start.

There are cer­tain things that, when push comes to shove, the pub­lic ex­pects gov­ern­ment to do. Congress knows that. Trump is now learn­ing.

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