President Donald Trump has unveiled his 2018 fiscal budget, claiming it’s an “America First” budget, to bolster the American economy and increase the security of our nation. Some of the biggest winners include the Defense Department, up by 10 percent ($52 billion); Homeland Security, up 6.8 percent and Veteran Affairs, which will see a 6 percent increase in funding. These increases are no doubt made to fight terrorists both at home and abroad and hopefully help America’s numerous forgotten veterans.
However, Trump also wants Congress to fund the first installment of the border wall he proposed during his campaign, which we now know needs to be around 30 feet high and aesthetically pleasing, as well as extend six feet underground to dissuade tunnelers. Early proposals recorded the cost of the wall anywhere between $10 and $20 billion. More recent estimates suggest an even higher bill. Supposedly, Trump will make Mexico repay the U.S. for the border wall. He will need to use the power of the U.S. government to seize border properties of American citizens and the grand wall might even push some of them to the “wrong side” of the wall. Trump has yet to acknowledge the true cost of a wall fulfilling his requirements, but he cannot deny it will cost an awful lot of taxpayer money.
To fund the wall project, Trump’s 2018 fiscal budget has drastically cut certain programs. The Environmental Protection Agency will see a budget cut of 31 percent as well as the end of many of its climate change programs. The State Department will lose 28 percent. The Department of Agriculture, the Department of Labor and the Department of Justice will all lose 21 percent individually. According to CNN, “the Trump administration will prioritize defense spending over diplomacy and foreign aid.”
However, his proposed cuts give us a good idea of what the next four years will look like — more spending on defense and anti-immigration efforts, less on low-income and vulnerable Americans. Granted, Trump’s budget only covers a small amount of federal spending and showcases only a bare-bones skeleton of the real fiscal plan for 2018. But in his hunt for funding, Trump has cut out vital resources for elderly citizens and after-school programs for young students. Meal on Wheels, the longest running program of the Community Development Block Grant program, which operates under the Department of Housing and Urban Development, will suffer from this new “America First” approach. Fortune reports that Meals on Wheels “served over 219 million meals to 2.4 million homebound senior citizens in 2016.” With Trump’s budget, most of those 2.4 million people will go hungry.
This news comes after Mick Mulvaney, director of Donald Trump’s office of budget management, told reporters that meals in school for young, low-income students “don’t work” in the way they are supposed to. This means the Trump administration does not see any link between feeding hungry students and better academic performance. In our country, 1 in 5 children don’t eat regular meals without in-school food programs. Since when does America needs an incentive to feed hungry children? Will we also require incentive to feed our elderly?
Is it trivial for us to demand that Trump give this more attention? No, it is not. We cannot sit on the knowledge that there were programs once available to keep our neighbors alive and we let them fall away. In light of Trump’s 2018 fiscal budget, we must turn a critical eye to who the budget cuts will affect. We need a president who puts all Americans first, not just some of us.