Donald Trump’s first budget may go nowhere in Congress, but it laid down a gauntlet more direct than the president’s bluntest tweets: The federal government will be far smaller, and even the pet projects of the states that sent him to the White House are in peril.
Under the proposal released Thursday morning, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative – now a $300 million undertaking to clean up and keep invasive species from the world’s largest single source of fresh surface water – would be zeroed out, despite the fact that the project directly benefits the same upper industrial Midwestern states – Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin – that elevated Trump to the presidency in November.
Trump’s budget also would nix the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state-local partnership aimed at serving as a regional economic-development agency for 13 Appalachian states, including Ohio, where all but two Appalachian counties voted for Trump.
In fact, some 20 federal agencies would be eliminated entirely, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts. Federal funds would disappear for such programs as home heating assistance for the needy and Meals on Wheels, home-delivered meals that are part of a statewide nutrition program that serves more than 100,000 older Ohioans.
“President Trump has talked a lot about being the ‘People’s President,’ yet his budget request literally rips food, housing, environmental protections, jobs and opportunity from countless American families, seniors, people with disabilities and our most vulnerable citizens,” said Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Jefferson Township.
But past presidents have tried to make cuts in many of the same programs, only to be thwarted by Congress. For example, President Barack Obama repeatedly proposed a $50 million cut for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Each time Congress restored the money.
Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said, “The president’s budget blueprint keeps his promise to put America’s security first, turning his words directly into policies that restore respect for our citizens’ hard-earned tax dollars.”
In explaining the proposed 31 percent cut for the Environmental Protection Agency, the Trump administration said the reduction would return oversight responsibility to local and state entities, allowing the federal agency to focus on “its highest national priorities.”