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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/17/17

"America First" Budget Is Unworthy of Our Nation

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With typical bombast, Donald Trump calls his 2018 draft budget America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again. No, it won't make America great again. It reflects a hardness of the heart and a sickness of the spirit unworthy of the American people.

Chances are, the great leaders of this country's history wouldn't even recognize its vision of America.

A Vision of Hard Power

Trump's Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a former Tea Party Congressman from South Carolina, has described the draft as a "hard-power budget." It slashes spending on diplomacy and foreign aid, while pumping up the military's already-over-inflated coffers. It boosts spending on what is already the largest military force in human history by $54 billion in a single year.

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"The core of my first budget blueprint is the rebuilding of our nation's military without adding to our Federal deficit," says Trump in his introduction to the document.

But James Madison, the fourth president of the United States who helped draft both the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, once said:

"A standing military force with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty."

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The U.S. military hardly needs "rebuilding." Pentagon spending has consistently risen through times of war and peace. And if Trump were genuinely concerned about the federal deficit, he could raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for his military spending spree. He asks everyone else, including future generations, to sacrifice instead.

The budget includes deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (31 percent), the State Department (28 percent), the Department of Health and Human Services (18 percent), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (13.9 percent),

"(The president) is following through on his promises," said Mulvaney, echoing Trump's bombast. But this statement appears to be a lie.

Trump promised to invest in infrastructure, but his budget cuts road spending by nearly half a billion dollars, and includes no new infrastructure spending. He promised to end disease, but this program slashes public health and medical research spending.

Trump's budget would end all spending for National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This is also symbolic, since these organizations make up only a tiny fraction of the federal budget. But these cuts, along with much larger reductions in funding for education and scientific research, constitute a fiscal war on the mind.

"Where knowledge is a duty," wrote Founding Father Thomas Paine, "ignorance is a crime." In Paine's sense, at least, this budget is criminal.

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Its cuts to the EPA are an assault on the land itself. Trump's determination to gut environmental regulations would cause incalculable ecological damage in the pursuit of private wealth.

This disregard for the land would have horrified another Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt, who once said,

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Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

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