The unkindest cuts
On Tuesday, President Trump proposed a $4.1 trillion budget for fiscal 2018 that included $3.6 trillion in spending reductions over 10 years. Experts and advocates speak up on behalf of some of the harder-hit areas.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a former Marine Corps general, said recently, “America has two fundamental powers, the power of intimidation and the power of inspiration.”
We couldn’t agree more. We’ve spent our entire careers on the “hard power” side of the ledger. Yet we know that U.S. humanitarian assistance, the keystone of the U.S. “power of inspiration,” is critical to U.S. national security. Americans understand that the U.S. military acts as a deterrent to those who would otherwise do us harm, but they should also understand that the United States’ extraordinary history of alleviating suffering and fighting extreme poverty around the globe is a major asset in securing our nation.
Yet the Trump administration has inexplicably proposed a package of extreme budget and staffing cuts to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development that would lay waste to many humanitarian and development programs. The administration’s budget proposal would cut overall development funding in half, slash international disaster assistance by 43 percent and completely eliminate the leading U.S. food-aid program.
Make no mistake, these deep cuts are not about making programs more effective or rooting out inefficiencies. These actions are not actions of reform. They are a wrecking ball. Congress must soundly reject this proposal. Michael G. Mullen Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2007 to 2011 Michèle Flournoy Chief executive, Center for a New American Security and a board member of CARE
In President Trump’s April 22 Earth Day message, he stated, “My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks.”
Yet Trump has chosen ignorance over knowledge with his budget proposal, which has scrubbed expenditures that would provide us with vital information about climate change. Among those severely cut back or eliminated altogether are programs in the departments of Energy, State, Interior and Homeland Security, and at the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA budget released last week cuts the Science and Technology budget by $282 million, almost 40 percent. The Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program is zeroed out; air and energy research are cut by 66 percent.
This effort to destroy irreplaceable research is staggering. It puts us and the rest of the world on a dangerous path, costing us vital time to take steps to avoid the worst impacts of a warming planet.
With no seeming clue as to what’s going on, the president seems to have cast our lot with a small coterie of climate skeptics and their industry allies rather than trying to better understand the impact of increased greenhouse-gas emissions into the atmosphere. His policy of purposeful willful ignorance is a bet-the-house approach that is destructive to responsible government.
William D. Ruckelshaus Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency, 1970 to 1973 and 1983 to 1985
Lee M. Thomas EPA administrator, 1985 to 1989
William K. Reilly EPA administrator, 1989 to 1993
The administration’s budget proposal for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is unsafe, unwise and fiscally irresponsible.
Unsafe. The proposal undermines CDC’s ability to find, stop and prevent threats to Americans’ health. I know what this looks like. When I joined the CDC in 1990, Congress had cut the tuberculosis control budget. TB came roaring back, costing billions and killing Americans. Since then we’ve responded to West Nile, H1N1, Ebola, Zika and more. This proposal cuts virtually every program needed to stop such risks.
Unwise. A proposed block grant hides hundreds of millions of dollars of cuts to programs that protect Americans from cancer, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. Block-granting undermines the CDC’s ability to help states implement programs proven to save lives and eliminates the opportunity to support communities and states based on need, impact or effectiveness. The proposal also eliminates research centers critical to discovering new ways to prevent diseases that threaten all Americans.
Fiscally irresponsible. Many CDC programs save $3 or more in health-care costs, and $10 in societal costs, for every dollar spent. Anti-tobacco ads prevent tens of thousands of deaths and reduce health-care costs by hundreds of millions of dollars. Cutting the CDC budget by $1.2 billion could cost Americans more than $15 billion over the next decade.
The CDC should not be a political football. The CDC is a best buy — money that can be counted on to prevent illness, disability and death and save money. As Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that oversees the CDC, noted: “What CDC does is probably more important to the average American than, in a sense, the Defense Department.” All who care about Americans’ health should make sure Congress preserves and increases CDC’s budget.
Tom Frieden Director, Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, 2009 to 2017
President Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget request seeks to raid some of the most flexible and effective grant dollars that communities receive from the federal government to meet affordable-housing and economic-development needs.
Governors, mayors and other officials use funds from Department of Housing and Urban Development initiatives, such as the HOME Investment Partnerships and the Community Development Block Grant programs, to build and preserve housing, support first-time home buyers, open community centers and supplement services for the homeless, elderly and disabled. These funds would be eliminated in this proposal, which could result in 580,000 fewer affordable homes created and more than 350,000 jobs lost over the next five years.
The proposed budget attacks communities of all types — urban and rural, red and blue, big and small — that use HUD funds to help residents improve their lives. Furthermore, HOME and CDBG are federalism in action, providing flexible funds to states and local governments to meet their unique needs. Eliminating these programs will leave cities and towns with too-limited funds, leading to local tax increases that stifle economies and limit mobility.
If Congress does not take a stand against Trump’s budget proposal, our communities will suffer grave consequences. By supporting these critical programs, Congress will equip cities and towns across the country with the tools they need to succeed.
Henry Cisneros HUD secretary, 1993 to 1997
Terri Ludwig Chief executive, Enterprise Community Partners