Bold Banter is a series where our regular contributors debate important policy and cultural issues that we face as Americans.
One look at President Donald Trump’s budget reveals a dramatically different federal government, one that’s entirely reoriented around defense.
Trump’s budget cuts nearly everything in order to increase defense spending, while doing nothing to narrow the federal deficit.
Small-government enthusiasts will cheer and declare that these budget cuts are victory for conservatives everywhere. Of course, the Trump administration should be aware of the unintended consequences of their actions: Such a radical budget will fuel opposition and hamper their other reform efforts.
The federal government’s budget is the largest on Earth and is vastly complex. Admittedly, a great deal of bureaucracy in Washington is absurdly inefficient and some cuts are probably an excellent move. But such draconian, across-the-board cuts will produce a tsunami of unintended consequences.
No matter what your political ideology is, you must come to understand that such deep cuts will cost the Trump administration politically. Budget cuts, whether they’re merited or not, affect millions of people and create a public-relations nightmare for the administration.
Proposing budget cuts never make for a nice photo op. That’s why we’re seeing an outcry over cuts to popular programs such as Meals on Wheels, a service that delivers food to needy seniors.
In the long-term, we may come to regret cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department’s budget—and countless other agencies.
All of these cuts serve one singular purpose: to beef-up our national defense. While I believe in strong national defense, wildly increasing the budget for a part of government that is already notoriously profligate is probably not a good idea.
Instead of increasing defense funding, our military could be much more efficient by enacting defense-contracting reforms.
Although Trump has promised to shake-up defense contracting, right now it’s a bloody mess. For instance, our military has the nasty habit of only awarding lucrative contracts to old, established companies that spend a fortune on lobbying. None of our world-famous tech companies such as Amazon and Google have contracts with the military—which makes us weaker in the age of cyberwarfare.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Our military could be much more efficient in so many ways. Rewarding bad behavior with more funding isn’t a good idea.
While reeling in federal spending is something that’s near and dear to the hearts of millions of Americans, few are acutely aware of how painful budget cuts can be. Instead, budget cuts should be made strategically, and those savings should be used to address our fiscal deficit.
Trump’s budget reflects the deep disconnect between the priorities of the administration and the needs of the American people. Despite riding the wave of populism and grandiose promises to both the rural and urban poor, Trump has quickly abandoned his rhetoric in choosing where to invest our resources.
The biggest losers, not surprisingly, are low-income Americans. With deep cuts to the Labor Department, Department of Health and Human Services and the Education Department, the administration stands to perpetuate cycles of poverty, creating a stronger economic and social divide that has already cost our country.
In line with his hawkish stance, Trump did increase the defense budget but failed to couple it with essential international diplomacy and development work that is required in building a strong foreign policy. While this administration’s nationalistic views discount the role of global interconnectedness, the reality is that our fate is intertwined with that of the world’s. And effective diplomacy and foreign relations are critical to America’s continued leadership and prosperity.
But let’s table the global implications and focus on domestic matters. With budget cuts to all executive departments with the exception of Veteran’s Affairs, Homeland Security and Defense, how do we build a country that uplifts the most vulnerable and creates a pathway to economic growth?
This isn’t about small government or reducing the deficit. This is about abandoning people without any resolution in meeting their basic needs. Needs such as finding affordable housing through vouchers, getting a Federal Pell Grant to pursue higher education or having access to health care.
What makes America great is creating pathways for everyone, especially the most vulnerable, to achieve their potential and their piece of the American Dream. But from aspiring homeowners to first-generation college students to small business owners to the elderly—we all stand to lose under this budget.
It is clear that the populist wave, particularly in rural communities that led Trump to triumph, was just that—a wave. When it comes to governance, Trump will consistently prioritize the needs of corporations and the wealthy over the well-being of ordinary people, including those hopeful souls who facilitated his victory.
David is the Editor of Bold. He's especially passionate about millennial economic empowerment. A former local news reporter, David is originally from the Little Havana area in Miami, and later became a pioneer resident of the Disney-inspired town of Celebration, Florida. David holds a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.
Yordanos is the Founder and Curator of Immigrants for America, a story campaign to showcase the diversity and vibrancy of the immigrant community through individual stories. Yordanos is also an Associate Partner at a national venture philanthropy fund where she focuses on K-12 education investments. Yordanos enjoys writing and contributes to the Huffington Post and Bold. Yordanos holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science, Honors, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Florida, where she was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame. She also has an M.P.P. in Business and Government Policy from Harvard Kennedy School.