You Should Care About President Trump's Federal Budget Proposal — Here's Why

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/AP Images.
President Trump has released his preliminary 2018 federal budget, which appears to funnel more resources into national defense while cutting crucial programs that touch on the lives of millions of Americans every single day.
The document, made available on Thursday morning, is named "America First: A Budget Blueprint To Make America Great Again." The proposal only covers discretionary spending, which is about 27% of the total federal budget. This includes several federal agencies and programs. Mandatory spending, i.e. Medicare, Social Security, and interest on the national debt are considered separate.
Ahead, we've broken down what the preliminary proposal entails, and most importantly, how it could impact your life.

What's the purpose of the budget?

It's a preliminary look at how the federal government intends to allocate its resources for the 2018 fiscal year, which starts on October 1. You can think of it as a roadmap of sorts for Congress and the Trump administration.

Is it final?

No. The executive branch doesn't have the authority to dictate the terms of the federal budget. That's up to Congress. This is a preliminary draft and a starting point for negotiations between the president and the legislative branch.

Then why is it so important?

The proposal gives us a view into the Trump administration's priorities, and in turn, what policies they intend to pursue over the next four years. It also gives us an idea of how the entire nation could be affected if Congress decides to roll with the president's ideas.

What's the overall plan?

The Trump administration wants to increase the country's defense spending to $54 billion and make the first payment of $3.1 billion for the border wall, among other things. To accomplish that, they're slashing budgets in other areas.
The agencies that would be hardest hit by the proposed cuts are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which protects human health and the environment through the enforcement of federal regulations; the State Department, which is in charge of foreign policy issues; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which develops laws related to things like farming, agriculture, and food. These stand to lose 31%, 29%, and 21% of their respective budgets.
The proposal also completely eliminates funding for 19 agencies and several federal programs.

What does this have to do with me?

The cuts would likely impact the daily lives of ordinary Americans in a variety of different ways. Here's a simple overview:
Health: The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the implementation of Obamacare — and any legislation that might replace it — could face a $12.6 billion cut. The proposal also increases funds for the prevention and treatment of opioid addiction.
Arts and culture: Trump's proposed budget would eliminate funding altogether for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Without federal support, an unknown number of arts organizations, museums, libraries, and public media outlets nationwide would suffer greatly.
Environment: Under Trump's budget, the Environmental Protection Agency will lose 50 programs and 3,200 jobs. The EPA's scientific research arm is facing massive cuts. Other programs that will also be slashed include grants that combat air pollution (at both the city and state level); infrastructure assistance to native villages in Alaska and along the U.S.-Mexico border; and cleanup efforts in places like Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes.
The budget also seeks to eliminate climate change prevention programs, and cut pledged funding to the United Nations' related programs.
Education: The budget would cut about $3.7 billion in grants for educational programs, including after-school and summer programs, and financial aid for first-generation and low-income students. It also would "significantly" reduce the federal work-study aid for college students.
On the flip side, it also increases the funding of charter schools by $168 million, and sets aside $250 million for a new private school choice program.
Transportation: The proposal suggests that a Transportation Department program providing $175 million in subsidized commercial air service to rural airports should be eliminated. This program is currently available in over 30 states. Residents who live far away from "major" airports would be the most affected.
The budget would also forego federal support of Amtrak's long-distance train, focusing instead on state-supported and regional services.
Legal services: One of the agencies that would have its funding completely eliminated is the Legal Services Corporation, which helps low-income Americans find lawyers to help resolve issues such as housing disputes, bankruptcy, and protective court orders for domestic violence victims. This agency currently serves about two million people each year.
Senior citizens: Another agency that would stop receiving funding completely is the Community Development Block Grant. This partly funds Meals on Wheels, a program that provides meals for homebound elderly people in need.
Border security: The budget for border security and immigration enforcement would receive a $314 million cash injection. That money would be used to hire 500 more Border Patrol agents and 1,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) workers in the 2018 fiscal year, as proposed by the president in his executive order on immigration.
Military and veterans: The budget proposes funneling money to the Defense Department to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps and the number of ships in the Navy's fleet, and raises spending on the Air Force so combat planes can be ready to fly.
It would also add $4.4 billion in funding to expand and modernize health services for veterans.

How is Congress reacting to the proposal?

Naturally, the Democrats weren't happy about the proposal.
"The President’s budget blueprint fails to recognize America’s strength depends on more than military spending; it depends on the power of our diplomacy, the health of our economy, and the vitality of our communities," Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. "This budget would devastate the innovation that drives our economy, the research that cures our diseases, the education that empowers our children, and the skills training programs that enable our workers to win the good-paying jobs of the modern economy."
Trump also faced some opposition and lukewarm reactions within his own party.
"It is clear that this budget proposed today cannot pass the Senate,” said Sen. John McCain, according to Bloomberg.
House Speaker Paul Ryan didn't seem eager to get behind the proposal, either. He told The Hill that the budget is the first step in a "long, ongoing process."

Is there anything I can do if I'm not happy with this?

Yes. Grab the phone and call your representative in Congress. Tell them to push back against the cuts or the increases that concern you.

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