Mulvaney speaks seated
Congressman Mick Mulvaney speaking at the 2013 Young Americans for Liberty National Convention at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo/Flickr-Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0)

Trump budget turns safety net into gossamer

If a budget is a moral document, then the budget President Trump submitted to Congress last week is a testament to immorality of the highest order.

The Jewish community’s response has been broadly critical. The American Jewish Committee, American Jewish World Service, B’nai B’rith International and the Religious Action Center are a few of the national organizations condemning aspects of the budget.

Thirty-one percent cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, 28 percent cuts to the State Department, and similar slashing of the Centers for Disease Control are among the biggest cuts.

Despite promises that aid to Israel would be unaffected, even AIPAC called out the budget’s deep cuts to foreign aid, which bolsters U.S. standing around the world. But more alarming are discretionary spending cuts to environmental protections and the social safety net that are so draconian, they have the potential to cause grave harm, even death.

That is not hyperbole. When a government eliminates home heating assistance to poor people who live in cold weather states, that government puts them in mortal danger.

Then there was the cavalier display by Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney justifying cuts to Meals on Wheels and school lunch programs, claiming such programs show “no results.”

Really? Tell that to a child who comes to school without having eaten breakfast, or an elderly person who depends on that one hot meal a day to get by.

Mulvaney also justified crushing cuts to the National Endowment of the Arts and other cultural entities, saying, “Can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs? The answer was no.”

Wrong, Mr. Mulvaney. Isn’t our national motto “E pluribus unum,” meaning “out of many, one”?

Besides, the discretionary spending slice of the budget pie is so small — and each of the programs mentioned all the smaller — that cutting them does nothing but cause unnecessary pain.

Fortunately, the consensus in Washington, D.C., is that the Trump budget is dead on arrival.

Democrats, liberals and a majority of American Jews are not the only ones blasting the proposed cuts. Republican House members, senators and governors have also expressed reservations about various aspects of the budget.

The good news is that presidents have only so much power. Now, it is the people’s turn to speak. And we must speak.

J. Staff