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.

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

Soft power

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

The en­vi­ron­ment

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

Amer­i­cans’ health

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

Af­ford­able hous­ing

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

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