Proposed Budget Will Hit Rural Areas and the Poor the Worst


March 16, 2017 (San Diego) Budgets are moral documents and reveal a lot about those who propose them. The proposed budget released by the Trump administration is no exception to this. It is both an economic and a moral document, and it will punish the poor and rural areas the worst. How you ask? Here are some ways.

Department of Agriculture:

The Department of Agriculture will eliminate the Water and Wastewater Loan and Grant program. This has served rural areas around the country to better their available water systems in rural areas, meaning population centers with less than 100,000 people. This is what the loans and grants available though this program is used for:

  • Drinking water sourcing, treatment, storage and distribution
  • Sewer collection, transmission, treatment and disposal
  • Solid waste collection, disposal and closure
  • Storm water collection, transmission and disposal

Federally recognized tribes can also apply. The end of this program could affect areas in the county of San Diego that could qualify, from tribes, to towns like Julian and Ramona in the unincorporated areas of the County. They will also affect rural areas in the same states that voted for the president.

It will also reduce staffing in USDA’s Service Center Agencies, according to the budget  “to streamline county office operations, reflect reduced Rural Development workload, and encourage private sector conservation planning.”

Overall, the decrease of Agriculture will also see a 21 percent decrease in funding.

Department of Commerce:

The department will face a 16 percent cut in its operating budget, However, for those in small businesses they will see the Economic Development Administration take an axe. This will affect rural utilities, as well as some department of transportation grants. This will particularly hit rural areas, as well,

It also eliminates the Minority Business Development agency. Supposedly ti will eliminate duplicate functions in other departments but this is directed at minority entrepreneurs,

San Diego will be hit by the zeroing of $250 million dollars that are used for coastal research and granted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). However, it maintains the current generation of satellites.

Department of Education.

The department will take a 13 percent reduction in its budget.

It reflects the current priories to increase private and charter schools, It will increase funding in these areas by $1.4 billion dollars, However, it eliminates $2,4 billion that support effective instruction grants It also eliminated the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which supports before and after school programs. These centers are part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. These are the objective of the programs:

  • To assist youth in meeting state standards for core academic subjects by providing students with academic enrichment opportunities before school, after school and/or during holidays or summer recess.
  • To offer participants a broad array of other services and programs, such as art, music, recreation activities, character education, career and technical training, drug and violence prevention programming, and technology education.
  • To provide educational services for families of participating students, such as literacy instruction, computer training and/or cultural enrichment.
  • To ensure that both youth and their families have decision-making roles in the creation, operation and evaluation of every 21st CCLC in Pennsylvania.
  • To mobilize school, community and private sector social and health services support and resources in order to remove barriers that impede students’ learning.

It also eliminates the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program and reduces the Federal work study programs, and also targets international education programs.

Department of Energy

This department is hit with a 5.6 percent decrease in its overall budget, However, it will increase the budget for the nuclear arsenal with a $1.4 billion increase.   

For local activists who want to remove the waste from San Onofre, the $120 million seeking to restart the Yuca Mountain Nuclear Repository might be good news. So is the cleanup of legacy facilities, which San Onofre might be considered part off,.

However, it also eliminated the Advanced Research Projects Energy, which targets renewable and clean energy research. This includes the advanced vehicle manufacturing program since this should be in the private sector.

Chiefly it:

Focuses funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Office of Nuclear Energy, the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, and the Fossil Energy Research and Development program on limited, early-stage applied energy research and development activities where the Federal role is stronger.  In addition, the Budget eliminates the Weatherization Assistance Program and the State Energy Program to reduce Federal intervention in State-level energy policy and implementation.  Collectively, these changes achieve a savings of approximately $2 billion from the 2017 annualized CR level.

Health and Human Services:

It will face an 18 percent budget reduction.

While it will increase the spending to deal with the opiate epidemic to the tune of $500 million, it will also reduce the National Institutes of Health. The proposed budget includes the following:

Reduces the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) spending relative to the 2017 annualized CR level by $5.8 billion to $25.9 billion.  The Budget includes a major reorganization of NIH’s Institutes and Centers to help focus resources on the highest priority research and training activities, including:  eliminating the Fogarty International Center; consolidating the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality within NIH; and other consolidations and structural changes across NIH organizations and activities.  The Budget also reduces administrative costs and rebalance Federal contributions to research funding. 

It is the beginning of a pull back from all international engagement. This will have consequences, negative consequences, for the United States in the medium to long term. 

The center is at the forefront of global monitoring, and was critical, for example, during the Ebola epidemic. They are also essential for the development of both mobile medicine and telemedicine, which rural areas in the United States benefit from. In some places, this is the only way to deploy healthcare.

This is one direct hit to both rural area and the poor in the United States:

Eliminates the discretionary programs within the Office of Community Services, including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), a savings of $4.2 billion from the 2017 annualized CR level.  Compared to other income support programs that serve similar populations, LIHEAP is a lower-impact program and is unable to demonstrate strong performance outcomes.  CSBG funds services that are duplicative of other Federal programs, such as emergency food assistance and employment services, and is also a limited-impact program.

Let’s unpack this. It ends a program that allows people on limited income, such as the elderly and the poor, from getting assistance to pay for their energy use. In other words, more Americans will no longer be able to pay for their electric bill. This will lead to people dying in the summer from heat, and in the winter from the cold.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Housing and Urban Development will get a total reduction in its budget of 13 percent. Among the programs affected will be the Community Development block Grants. These grants were established in 1974, and they partly fund things like Meals on Wheels, According to CNN reporting this will “Though the blueprint doesn’t contain enough detail to know for certain how local Meals on Wheels programs will be affected, spokeswoman Jenny Bertolette said, “It is difficult to imagine a scenario in which they will not be significantly and negatively impacted if the President’s budget were enacted.”

Programs across the country are already serving 23 million fewer meals than they did in 2005, and waiting lists to join Meals on Wheels are growing, she said.

While 3 percent of their budget comes from governments grants, they also have a network of local operators, There are over 5,000 of them. So this will effectively affect different local programs differently. However, the program already has less capacity to serve those it serves, who are dependent on this for at times their only contact and a full meal during the day.

This will send people to the hospital and to an early grave.

Department of Transportation

The department will take a hit in its budget of 13 percent.

This will seek to privatize the air traffic control system. It will also terminate support for long distance rail travel in the AMTRAK system, Essentially it maintains the Northeastern Corridor, which is profitable. It will end train transportation for the red states that voted for the administration,

It will end the support of local transit systems. If your project is not already funded, forget about federal grants.

It also eliminates the support of the Essential Air Service, which will hit small rural areas in chiefly red states, who will lose their regional airports. Without them, some people will have to travel long distances to get to an airport. 

Overall the budget is aimed at reducing costs by going after the most vulnerable among us. It will affect those who voted for the administration the worst, And its reception on Capitol Hill has been frosty at best. It also reduces spending in critical areas such as basic science and withdraws the United States from major international institutions, or just plain reduces our participation.

For that, we need to look at the State Department budget.

If you were wondering how bad they were going to get their budget reduced, it is to the tune of 28 percent. Especially hit are programs that support foreign aid, less than 1 percent of the total federal budget.

This will eliminate the Global Climate Change Initiative. Given that the United States also pulled out of the Tokyo protocol after George Bush took over, trust in the U.S. as a negotiating partner will now be put in doubt. The budget eliminates the funding of the Green Climate Fund and the two precursor climate funds.

This is the rest of the projected changes and reductions, which imply a pullback from international engagement:

  • Reduces funding to the UN and affiliated agencies, including UN peacekeeping and other international organizations, by setting the expectation that these organizations rein in costs and that the funding burden be shared more fairly among members.  The amount the U.S. would contribute to the UN budget would be reduced and the U.S. would not contribute more than 25 percent for UN peacekeeping costs.   
  • Refocuses economic and development assistance to countries of greatest strategic importance to the U.S. and ensures the effectiveness of U.S. taxpayer investments by rightsizing funding across countries and sectors.
  • Allows for significant funding of humanitarian assistance, including food aid, disaster, and refugee program funding.  This would focus funding on the highest priority areas while asking the rest of the world to pay their fair share.  The Budget eliminates the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance account, a duplicative and stovepiped account, and challenges international and non-governmental relief organizations to become more efficient and effective.
  • Reduces funding for the Department of State’s Educational and Cultural Exchange (ECE) Programs.  ECE resources would focus on sustaining the flagship Fulbright Program, which forges lasting connections between Americans and emerging leaders around the globe.
  • Improves efficiency by eliminating overlapping peacekeeping and security capacity building efforts and duplicative contingency programs, such as the Complex Crises Fund.  The Budget also eliminates direct appropriations to small organizations that receive funding from other sources and can continue to operate without direct Federal funds, such as the East-West Center. • Recognizes the need for State and USAID to pursue greater efficiencies through reorganization and consolidation in order to enable effective diplomacy and development.
  • Reduces funding for multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, by approximately $650 million over three years compared to commitments made by the previous administration.  Even with the proposed decreases, the U.S. would retain its current status as a top donor while saving taxpayer dollars.

So these are the highlights. Yes, there are expected increases in the budget of the Defense Department, and other national security items. But to paraphrase Secretary of Defense James Mattis, he will have to buy more ammunition, because this budget pulls back from essential diplomatic functions. It also pulls back from essential climate actions. He told Congress this. 

Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” Mattis wrote in unpublished testimony, provided to senators after his confirmation hearing and reported by ProPublica Tuesday. “It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning.


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