WASHINGTON – Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, released the following statement on President Trump’s budget blueprint:
“While President Eisenhower warned of the military-industry complex, today President Trump has gone in the opposite direction with his proposed budget blueprint. While we can all agree that a strong national defense is necessary, our military spending already exceeds the budgets of the next seven largest militaries in the world combined. That the proposed $54 billion increase in military spending would come from $54 billion in direct cuts to non-defense programs and agencies is shameful, horrifying and unacceptable.
While lacking the details that normally accompany a budget proposal, it’s clear that this blueprint would fail communities around the nation, take money away from critical public safety and social services programs, and harm the working and middle class. The federal budget should work to support and expand the middle class, invest in good jobs and the infrastructure our communities need, strengthen the social safety net, and provide educational, economic, and employment opportunities for all Americans. On all those fronts, the Trump proposal fails.
We will look carefully at the specifics of the president’s plans in May when the administration releases its full budget proposal, but what we see today is a non-starter. The Trump budget blueprint would:
- Eliminate entire agencies and programs, including the Senior Community Service Employment Program, which is a job training program for older Americans, the Legal Services Corporation, and the Appalachian Regional Commission.
- Decimate funding for critical programs in the Department of Housing and Development, including Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), which have helped local communities address housing problems.
- Cut $3.7 billion in grants for teacher training, afterschool, and summer programs and an almost $4 billion cut from the Pell grant program, which helps students in need afford to pay for college.
- Slash funding for transit projects that are critical to connecting working people to economic opportunities, eliminate funding for the always oversubscribed TIGER discretionary grant program, and end funding for the Essential Air Service Program (EAS), which provides subsidized commercial air service to rural airports that many not get service otherwise.
- Significantly underfund the Census Bureau at a time when the Bureau should be ramping up funding to prepare for and conduct the 2020 census.
Instead of investing in these much-needed programs, the budget blueprint proposes to spend $4.1 billion through 2018 on the beginnings of construction of a wall through communities on the U.S.- Mexico border.
Rather than eliminating or cutting vital programs that benefit many Americans so that it can pump money into an already over bloated military, the administration should thoroughly examine the Defense Department for actual government waste. Last December the Washington Post reported that the Pentagon had conducted an internal study showing $125 billion in administrative waste.
National defense isn’t just about the number of ships and fighter jets we have. If lawmakers are serious about providing for the national defense, they should ensure that everyone in the country has the ability to prosper.”
Wade Henderson is president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.