Any business or organization’s mission is ultimately revealed by where it decides to spend its money. The federal government is no different. Thursday, President Trump released his skinny budget, named so because it’s difficult, no, impossible, for a new administration to wrap its mind around the largest bureaucracy in the world that employs 2.1 million civilians and several hundred thousand more under contract.
In every budget there are winners and losers. In Trump’s budget the big winner is the military. It gets a boost of 10 percent or $54 billion. Homeland Security gets a $2.8 billion boost to pay for a border wall and more Border Patrol agents. Veterans Affairs gerts a 6 percent rise that equates to $4.4 billion.
The losers list is very long, starting with the Environmental Protection Agency with a cut of 31 percent, followed by the State Department at 29 percent. The Agriculture and Labor departments each get a cut of 21 percent while the Justice Department gets a 20 percent cut. Those departments could be seen as the lucky ones; there are 19 agencies the Trump budget defunds completely.
How could this impact Middle Georgia? Too soon to tell, but any increase in military spending could be good for Robins Air Force Base, but Congress would have to reopen the budget caps debate, which would reopen the debt ceiling debate. The Middle Georgia Regional Airport, the only airport in Georgia that is eligible to receive subsidies from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Service program, would be on the losing side of the discussion because Trump’s budget eliminates the EAS program.
Sen. Johnny Isakson said in a release Thursday, that the president, “has requested additional funding over and above the previously scheduled funding for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers, known as FLETC, which has headquarters in Glynco, Ga. (outside of Brunswick.) I have been working with our delegation to ensure FLETC can continue to carry out its critical mission of training our law enforcement articles.
“As chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I am encouraged by the president taking this important step towards fulfilling his promise to invest in the restoration of our veterans’ healthcare system. This budget will allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to make changes and reforms that are so desperately needed, such as extending and enhancing the Veterans Choice Program, and is a great start to providing the VA with the tools necessary to deliver the best healthcare for our veterans.”
But Isakson also pointed out something that, in all the hoopla over the budget’s release, is easy for the average American to forget: “Today’s budget proposal is the beginning of a process. Ultimately, it will be up to Congress to decide how to allocate limited federal dollars among many different agencies and programs, including effective, well-targeted diplomatic and international initiatives that are critical to our national security.”
Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pennsylvania said, according to The New York Times, “The president proposes and Congress disposes. We can’t finance a defense buildup entirely on the back of domestic, nondefense spending. It’s not realistic and unfair.”
There is enough in Trump’s budget to make those of every political stripe unhappy. Conservatives will attack because it does nothing to decrease the deficit that’s expected to be $487 billion in 2018, headed to the $1 trillion mark by 2023. Liberals will will decry the elimination of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Meals on Wheels program and community investment block grants. And there are real worries about the impacts of lower budgets on climate change, clean water and air, diplomacy and on work done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Everyone will be bombarded by grim but real “What if” stories. All of the agencies have loyal constituents that are sure to make their voices heard. Members of Congress will be listening. Remember 2018, and the next election cycle, is right around the corner.