Budget is policy: Agencies to be eliminate under Trump’s proposed budget

Just for the record. Just for history’s sake.

Budget is policy.

Beyond the rhetoric, beyond the outrageous lies, beyond the talking heads: Want to see (not hear!) where President Trump stands on social programs? Then, look at this proposed budget.

Here is the list of agencies he is proposing to eliminate:

(The following list shows independent agencies first, then multi-agency cuts, and then is organized by department name alphabetically. Under each department name, the largest cuts in terms of funding are shown first. The savings figures show the administration’s estimates of how much would be saved in the coming fiscal year, unless otherwise noted.)

 Independent Agencies

• Corporation for National and Community Service — $958 million

• Corporation for Public Broadcasting — $454 million

• Legal Services Corporation — $351 million

• Institute of Museum and Library Services — $207 million

• Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation — $148 million

• Appalachian Regional Commission — $119 million

• National Endowment for the Arts — $119 million

• National Endowment for the Humanities — $106 million

• US Trade and Development Agency — $48 million

• African Development Foundation — $22 million

• Delta Regional Authority — $22 million

• Overseas Private Investment Corporation — $22 million

• Inter-American Foundation — $17 million

• US Institute of Peace — $16 million

• Denali Commission — $8 million

• Northern Border Regional Commission — $7 million

• Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars — $4 million

• Chemical Safety Board — $2 million

• Securities and Exchange Commission’s Reserve Fund — $200 million (over five years); $450 million (over 10 years)

 Multi-Agency

• Repeal and replace Obamacare — $15 billion (over five years); $250 billion (over 10 years)

• Allocations to the Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund — $1.043 billion (over five years); $2.846 billion (over 10 years)

• Workers’ Compensation (WC) Reverse Offset — $39 million (over five years); $164 million (over 10 years)

 Agriculture

• Rural water and wastewater loan and grant program — $498 million

• McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program, which aims to reduce food insecurity — $201 million

• Rural Business and Cooperative Service programs — $95 million

• Rural single family housing direct loan program — $61 million

• Interest Payments to Electric and Telecommunications Utilities — $685 million (over five years); $1.377 billion (over 10 years)

• Rural Economic Development Program — $477 million (over 5 or 10 years)

• Eliminate Harvest Price Option for Crop Insurance — $5.102 billion (over five years); $11.923 billion (over 10 years)

• Eliminate Small Programs — $1.402 billion (over five years); $3.077 billion (over 10 years)

 Commerce

• National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grant and education programs, including Sea Grant, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, Coastal Zone Management Grants, the Office of Education, and the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund — $262 million

• Economic Development Administration, which provides small grants — $221 million

• Federal funding for Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, which subsidizes state centers that provide consulting services to small- and medium-size manufacturers — $124 million

• Minority Business Development Agency, which promotes minority business entrepreneurship — $26 million

 Corps of Engineers

• Divest federal government of the Washington Aqueduct, which is the wholesale water supply system for Washington, D.C.; Arlington County, Virginia; and parts of Fairfax County, Virginia — $119 million (over five or 10 years)

 Education

• Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program — $2.345 billion

• 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which supports before- and after-school programs as well as summer programs — $1.164 billion

• Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, which delivers need-based student financial aid — $732 million

• Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants — $277 million

• Comprehensive Literacy Development Grants — $190 million

• Strengthening Institutions — $86 million

• International Education and Foreign Language Studies Domestic and Overseas Programs, which are designed to strengthen the capability and performance of American education in foreign languages and international studies — $72 million

• Impact Aid Payments for Federal Property — $67 million

• Teacher Quality Partnership — $43 million

• Account Maintenance Fee Payments to Guaranty Agencies — $443 million (over 5 or 10 years)

• Public Service Loan Forgiveness — $10.213 billion (over 5 years); $27.471 billion (over 10 years)

• Subsidized Loans — $14.297 billion (over five years); $38.873 billion (over 10 years)

 Energy

• Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy — $316 million

• Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility — $61 million

• Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program and Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, which are involved in disruptive energy research and development and innovative technologies — $21 million

• Repeal Borrowing Authority for Western Area Power Administration — $3.99 billion (over five years); $4.425 billion (over 10 years)

• Divest transmission assets of the Power Marketing Administrations, which include Southwestern Power Administration, Western Area Power Administration, and Bonneville Power Administration — $3.583 billion (over five years); $5.512 billion (over 10 years)

 Environmental Protection Agency

• Geographic programs — $427 million

• Energy Star and voluntary climate programs — $66 million

 Health and Human Services

• Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program — $3.384 billion

• Community Services Block Grant — $714 million

• Health professions and nursing training programs — $403 million

• Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality — $333 million

• Social Services Block Grant — $8.085 billion (over five years); $16.47 billion (over 10 years)

• Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Contingency Fund — $2.999 billion (over five years); $6.039 billion (over 10 years)

 Homeland Security

• Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis Program — $190 million

• Transportation Security Administration Law Enforcement Grants — $45 million

 Housing and Urban Development

• Community Development Block Grant program — $2.994 billion

• HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Choice Neighborhoods — $948 million

• Choice Neighborhoods program — $125 million

• Indian Community Development Block Grant — $60 million

• Self-help Homeownership Opportunity Program — $56 million

 Interior

• Abandoned Mine Land Grants — $90 million

• Heritage Partnership Program — $19 million

• National Wildlife Refuge Fund — $13 million

• Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act unobligated balances — $230 million (over 5 or 10 years)

• Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act Repeal — $1.685 billion (over 5 years); $3.56 billion (over 10 years)

• Repeal Enhanced Geothermal Payments to Counties — $17 million (over five years); $37 million over 10 years)

 Justice Department

• State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, which reimburses states for costs of incarcerating certain criminal undocumented immigrants — $210 million

Labor

• Senior Community Service Employment Program, which aims to transition low-income, unemployed seniors to unsubsidized jobs — $434 million

• Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Training — $82 million

• Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Susan Harwood training grants — $11 million

 NASA

• Five Earth Science Missions — $191 million

• Office of Education — $78 million

State Department, USAID, Treasury International Programs

• Development Assistance account — $2.509 billion

• P.L. 480 Title II Food Aid — $1.713 billion

• Global Climate Change Initiative and Green Climate Fund — $1.59 billion

• Earmarked appropriations for nonprofits: The Asia Foundation and East-West Center — $34 million

 Transportation

• National Infrastructure Investments, TIGER program, which awards funding for projects — $499 million

 Treasury

• Global Agriculture and Food Security Program — $43 million

• New grants to Community Development Financial Institutions — $210 million

To see other aspects of Trump’s budget proposal, click here and here.

#RESIST we must.

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Getting to a reasonable budget: It’s time to work around him, not with him

… the President’s proposed budget challenges us to revisit some very basic assumptions regarding the role of government…

At one end of the spectrum is the position that government exists to provide principally and primarily – if not exclusively – for our common defense and security. At the other end of spectrum is the position that government has a primal role in providing for our common good and a responsibility to take care of the poor.

Both of these positions are valid and merit thoughtful consideration.

However: Neither extreme seems to have workout too well in real life situations. The first has led to chaotic cultural disarray and rampant uncontrollable poverty – think the U.S. before the Great Depression. The other is infected with and leads to inefficiency and mismanagement of epic proportions – think any communist country before the fall of the Berlin Wall – or Cuba today. Both extreme lead to authoritarian systems.

They survive only when information is controlled and the few get richer at the expense of the masses. In rampant capitalism the masses are conned into the addiction of the opium of entertainment, materialism and extreme religion. In centralist communism the masses are forced fed the opium of false collectivism, acceptance of scarcity, and embracement of extreme ideology.

Beyond the philosophical debates, here we are in the good U.S. of A debating a proposed budget submitted by the President that would increase military defense at the expense of all else. Proposed cuts to social service program run deep. The examples are endless. Deep cuts to food stamps; deep cuts to government funded help for seniors and the disabled, on and on… All in the name of efficiency, streamlining a bloated federal bureaucracy, and resetting our priorities.

And, much of it explained away by alleging that there is waste in the existing system. (Some of us inside the system would argue that it is not so much waste as redundancy and inherent inefficiencies – if measured by private sector standards.)

It is as if Republicans want to shine a headlight on the bad apples (the few cases of voter fraud, the few folks taking advantage of the system), while Democrats want to discuss the plight of those relatively few disenfranchised at the fringes (the transgendered, the disabled.) The Republicans have little patience – and are simply do not care to pay the price – to accommodate the needs of these special populations. The Democrats have little patience for the idea that helping the rich will eventually help the poor.

The Republicans want the government out of the charity business. The Democrats want the government to steward the charity business.

> Can a robust charitable system replace government assistance? Can – in the USA – charities exist without being exempt from paying taxes, including the exemption from taxes of their vast physical plants and land?

> Why are we subsidizing the best off among us – homeowners – with the mortgage deduction?

> How come some believe that alleviating the tax burden of corporations will ‘lift all boats’, thinking that the private sector can invest funds in economic growth better than the government can distribute tax revenues through social programs?

Heavy questions… Unfortunately any attempt at a sensible debate in Congress on these philosophical / governance topics will be drowned by partisan memes, simplistic headlines, and the growing complete and total distrust of the capacity of our elected officials the govern, the growing complete and total distrust of the capacity of the press to report facts, and – most dangerous – the growing complete and total distrust of those other Americans that don’t think like us.

Ah, but do not despair! There remains a critical mass of folks – at all sides of the issues – that are willing to discern, debate, dialogue, and discuss… Most of these folks already agree on one thing: This President is not only a disruptor, but is also increasingly dysfunctional… His credibility is shot. His – and his team’s – capacity to lead is shattered.

We gotta work around him, not with him.

#RESIST

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America the Ugly?

Oh the irony and the hypocrisy of it all!

Rex Tillerson, Exxon’s ex CEO (and supposed ‘Secretary of State’ of the United States of America – yeah, right) just lectured Iran’s leaders about freedom of assembly and freedom of the press. He did this while standing next to Saudi Arabia’s leaders after signing a deal whereas the US sold them $110B worth of military equipment.

The USA just showed its true colors yet again. Values be dammed. Moral highroads just hit the gutter. A new low…

Does ANYBODY care that the first Country our illustrious President chooses to officially visit has a human rights record WORSE than Russia or Iran – or Cuba for that matter?

 “[Saudi Arabia] does not allow for the existence of political parties, trade unions, or independent human rights groups. One cannot worship any religion other than Islam in public. And public gatherings, even if they are peaceful, are prohibited.”… More

But hey, we just sold them billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment – and they have lots of oil… (Please spare me any reference to how ‘Obama was their friend too.’ That does not make this visit any less hypocritical.)

Here we go again. Seen this movie before: Arm our (supposed) friends because we are fighting a common (supposed) enemy – an enemy we helped create – and then in the not too distant future those same arms are used against us… Hmmm…. Who wins with this approach? You guessed it! The arms makers and the arms dealers… Who suffers? Everyone else.

(Are you watching Exxon stock while all of this is going on? Did you know that Trump registered eight companies   in Saudi Arabia in 2016?)

In the good ol’ days most of America’s foreign policy was guided by some semblance (at least in appearance) of aspiration; of moral leadership; of values driven endeavors… Nah. No more… Let’s just make sure we keep access to that oil – and Trump Enterprises prosper while at it.

Now foreign policy becomes transactional. ‘You buy weapons, invest some of that money in U.S. corporate world, make a few rich friends richer, create international chaos so we can sell more weapons, and the cycle starts all over again.’

=> No thought to how different a world it would be if we invested in other countries’ hospitals and schools instead of bullets and bombs.

=> No recognition that by being the world’s weapon producer and dealer we can guarantee only the establishment of order by force rather than goodwill.

=> No attempt at conveying expectations of respect and honor for civil discourse and pluralism because we have shattered all expectations that we will do that in our own land.

America is fast becoming a laughingstock. The Ugly American is rearing its very ugly head.

America the beautiful; America the graceful; America the caring is harder and harder to find… And it’s only being a few months.

Welcome to TrumpWorld. #resist we must.

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The intersection, balancing, and tension between Individual and collective well being

So much news coming at you so fast and so many places to follow it all!  It is becoming increasingly impossible to focus on any one singular issue and churn its deep meaning until a consensus, general conclusion emerges.

We are bombarded with not a trickle but a firehose of pertinent, important news tidbits followed by countless hours of talking heads repeating a slight variation of the same headline until another one shows up; and so they all move to the new headline, leaving the old one in the dust, inconclusive and without resolution.

It is challenging to make individual sense of it all; and infinitively more challenging to know what it all means to the collective well being…

Surely we could look the other way. Surely we could say it does not impact us individually. Surely we could disregard it all as ‘inside the beltway (Washington, D.C.) speak’.

Surely we could do for the collective good what we can, focusing on our traditional networks, friends, and families; helping out with our own homelands of yesteryear and favorite unfortunate spots of today as if nothing has changed, as if today is no different than the recent past.

After all, we are all so busy, right? We all have lives to live; sports to watch; events to attend; rituals in which to participate; and a future to plan for.

… all of this murkiness will eventually play out. All the craziness will settle down. Impact on our individual, personal life will be minimal…

… there are lots of people that know much more than we do taking care of our collective well-being. They know best. They will do their dealing and wheeling to benefit themselves and we will continue existing on the crumbs. That’s just the way it has always been and will always be…

And surely some else is calling the politicians, writing the e-mails, and attending the rallies. I don’t really have to do all of that. I am busy with my individual life. America has been through much worse turbulent times.

I will just tune it out. Stop watching the news. Focus on the family.

Until.

Until your pregnant friend cannot access insurance because pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition, no longer covered except at high costs.

Until your niece who thought she had bought into the social compact guaranteeing that after working for a non-profit for 10 years her $120,000 student debt be forgiven, but now that is not so anymore.

Until vacationing in National Parks becomes impossible because of lack of staff and appropriate funding.

Until real news becomes impossible to access because of a combination of self imposed censorship and the government Orwellian tactics.

Until you wake up to realize that the tax system has been simplified to favor the 1% and screw the rest of us.

Until world leaders say out loud what they have been sensing recently: The political leadership in the US is laughable and simply does not merit respect – or trust.

Until crime spikes as a backlash to the top down law-and-order mandates and practices.

Until economic activity begins to be directly impacted by a serious labor shortage easily averted with reasonable immigration reform.

Until our children grow up being taught to question the legitimacy of climate change; and Canada warms up so we all simply move there to escape this madness.

Fearmongering? No. A reality check.

Individually #resist so we can collectively #survive

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Desperately seeking positive vibes – yet nada in sight

Desperately seeking positive vibes – yet nada in sight

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I am by nature a compromiser. I want to find common ground.

For me, diplomacy rules. I can easily accept our disagreements and focus on where we agree.

I like to find where our agendas intersect and work on that ‘sweet spot’.

I don’t mind ‘sleeping with the enemy’, or ‘being in the belly of the beast’.

Of course I have my values, my principles. These drive me. They define me… I could say some are non-negotiable, but that implies an intransigent position that is not helpful… I’d rather say “let us respect each other, understand where we are coming from, and focus the headlight on matters of mutual interest.”

Throughout my life I’ve dealt with plenty of folks with whom I vehemently disagree – in small ways and in big ways.

  • I grew up in the South. I had to watch Dukes of Hazards and picnic in the shadow of Stone Mountain’s carving of the Confederate heroes.
  • I’ve returned to Cuba. I had to swallow hard in the face of pervasive totalitarian Castroism propaganda everywhere.
  • My views regarding where we need to focus regarding abortion puts me at odds with some fellow Catholics and does not satisfy some of my fellow Democrats.

Yet, I have friends – very good friends – in the Deep South; I remain in dialogue with Cubans that are part of the Castro regime; and, I pray with pro-life Catholics and do civic work with pro-choice Democrats.

I have made a living out of co-existing with people with whom I have major disagreements… And, that is a good thing. I am thankful for that.

But this Trump thing is giving me a challenge that I have yet to conquer.

  • I am trying – really REALLY trying – to find something – ANYTHING – positive and worthy of working towards in the Trump agenda.
  • I am trying – really REALLY trying – to understand this man, Trump; his style, his way of communicating, his matter of speech.
  • I am trying – really REALLY trying – to identify that issue I can say ‘ah, I can buy into that; yes, I will enthusiastically support that’.

But nada yet. Nothing.

  • I am willing to separate the message from the messenger. I don’t have to like Trump to work with his folks. (I surely do not ‘like’ Raul Castro, yet I am willing to work with his folks.)
  • I am willing to dispel the past and focus on the future. I don’t want to re-litigate the campaign venom. (I don’t need to know how many slaves your ancestors owned or how you’ve benefitted from white privilege to work with you.)
  • I am willing to set aside fundamental questions. I don’t want to get bogged down on whether life begins at conception or when there is viability. (Yet, we can work together on prenatal care.)

100 days into this man’s presidency, and I have found zero, zilch – NADA – in common. Not a single issue I can proudly embrace. Not a single policy I can enthusiastically support. Not a single action I can say unequivocal ‘yes’ to.

(Not to say anything about his character… Can’t stand it. Can hardly listen to him when he speaks. His insulting, demeaning, incomplete sentences remain impossible to comprehend… He has managed to piss off Canadians, for crying out loud! How do you do THAT?!?)

… maybe someday that will change … maybe he will focus on infrastructure, reduce the tax burden of ordinary folks, or stick to providing healthcare regardless of pre-existing condition…

But, for now, #RESIST I will.

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