I’ve kept quiet for too long, but I can’t keep quiet any longer.
What I’m hearing and reading about President Trump’s budget proposals is forcing me to speak out.
Let me say first that I believe our country needs a strong military. But I’m pretty certain that right now the US has the strongest military in the world, and no one comes close. However, as a veteran of the Vietnam era, I know that having the strongest military doesn’t guarantee victory — especially when our president doesn’t make the right decisions about when, where and how to deploy those forces. I’m not sure where the next conflict will occur, but my fear is that we might not win — not because of a lack of strength, but because of a lack of judgment.
We’re seeing that lack of judgment this week in the budget proposals. More money for the military, but less for the diplomats whose job it is to keep the peace, and never-ending criticism of the intelligence agencies whose job it is to uncover the next trouble spots and to root out our rivals’ plans.
Even more troubling is the president’s wish to scale back, even to eliminate, relatively inexpensive programs that mean so much to the daily lives of so many Americans. He would cut funding for Meals on Wheels, which provides nutrition and moments of companionship for homebound disabled and senior citizens. He would eliminate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, killing off Big Bird and his neighbors as well as funding for radio and television stations across the nation — even though the cost per citizen is a mere $1.35 a year. (Full disclosure: I do freelance writing for Delaware Public Media, which operates WDDE-FM and a news-oriented website.) He would kill two well-respected cultural resources, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He would eliminate federal funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a nationwide network that trains small and mid-sized businesses in techniques that make their operations more cost effective.
He would cut $3.7 billion in grants for teacher training, after-school and summer programs, and aid programs to first-generation and low-income students. On the chopping block is the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the agency that runs AmeriCorps, which provides the funds that Teach For America uses to train college grads who are taking teaching jobs in high-poverty urban and rural schools. (Full disclosure, part two: My daughter works for Teach For America and her responsibilities include overseeing teacher training.) He would eliminate $35 million in funding for affordable housing.
The president who named a Housing secretary with no experience in the field would eliminate $35 million in funding for affordable housing.
The president who wants to crack down on illegal immigration is proposing to cut some repayments to state and local governments for costs of incarcerating certain undocumented immigrants. He would eliminate a program that helps low-income senior citizens find jobs. With fewer questionable tax returns being audited every year (including his own?), he would cut another $239 million from the Internal Revenue Service budget.
On top of that, almost one-third of the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget would disappear, taking with it an office responsible for cleaning up pollution in the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes.
These cuts — and many more I haven’t mentioned — would have a devastating and debilitating attack on our country. It’s a form of “carnage” far different from what the president mentioned in his inaugural address.
I urge you (even if you disagree with me) to contact your Congressional representatives in Washington and let them know how you feel. There’s even an app named 5 Calls that will help you find their phone numbers and give you scripted messages on key issues.
Do what you can. It’s your duty as a citizen. I’m not keeping quiet anymore, and neither should you.