The Budget: A Statement of our National Values

The President has submitted his FY 2018 budget to the Congress and having reviewed it carefully, I want to comment on what his stated priorities are. It’s important to note that our national budget is not only a hefty compilation of numbers…it is a statement of our national values.

For our veterans who have risked their lives to defend our nation’s freedom, the President’s budget slashes $72 billion from essential disability programs like Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. Veterans have more than earned these benefits by serving our country valiantly.

For the grandparent who has dementia and is in a nursing home, the President’s budget cuts almost $1 trillion from Medicaid. What family can afford to pay for or replace long-term care or a nursing home? These drastic cuts strip away health care from millions of Americans over the next ten years, leaving them to fend for themselves. It also increases health care costs by forcing hospitals to foot the bill for uncompensated care. Hospitals are major employers in our communities and thousands of jobs would also be affected.

The 120 top U.S. generals and admirals warned the President in February that we must exhaust every means of diplomacy possible before we turn to war, but the President’s budget cuts $11.5 billion from the State Department and USAID, including programs that are essential to our national security. As Secretary of Defense James Mattis said, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately.”

The President’s budget slashes $690 million from the Department of Energy…31% of the EPA’s budget. This endangers critical research and jeopardizes our air and water for future generations, and cripples the Agency’s ability to enforce laws.

For those with debilitating diseases who look to the National Institutes of Health for hope in the form of new lifesaving medicines, including biomedical innovations pioneered in Silicon Valley, the President’s budget cuts $7 billion in research funding. This can be a matter of life or death. The NIH is our nation’s premiere health research institution and we should be increasing its budget, not slashing it.

For aspiring young artists in underserved areas, eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities will rob many from learning and being inspired by history museums, art exhibits, and music and theater performances.

The best-selling author Tom Friedman has documented in his writings about the five major pillars of our economy — research and development; infrastructure; education; capital formation and immigration. When we invest in them, the American economy grows and we all benefit. When we don’t, our economy shrinks. By these measures as well as the many human impacts, the President’s budget shortchanges America badly. The Trump budget is bad for our economy, damages people’s lives, adds to our debt and diminishes America’s future.

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