We can only hope that President Donald Trump’s travesty of a federal budget is, as with so many things Trump, less a serious threat than a pose and an opening bid.
Congress holds the federal purse strings, and many of the conservative perennials in the $1.15 trillion outline unveiled Thursday have been floated before, and rejected.
Plus, congressional Republicans have witnessed the backlash to their assault on the Affordable Care Act. Trump’s budget features even more – forgive us – carnage. Our hope is fellow Republicans won’t have the stomach for that.
Still, it is one thing to see proposals like this emerge, year after year, from the most conservative Republicans, and something else again for them to issue forth with the president’s endorsement. Trump’s plan would rob from the poor, the pollution-wracked and the peaceful to bloat military spending.
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Out would go great chunks of funding for humanitarian aid, refugee assistance and the United Nations. Gone would be critical support for affordable housing, public transportation, science, arts, schools and Superfund site cleanup.
In would come fighter jets, deportation raids, Border Patrol hiring sprees and that inane wall on the Mexican border. As California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein points out, the budget dispatches with the president’s big talk of overcoming the federal deficit and investing in infrastructure. The $20 trillion national debt would remain unscathed, and $54 billion in cuts would be offset, not with bridges and roads, but with needless national security paraphernalia.
Trump’s proposed budget would devastate California and betray the state’s values. This state’s Republicans in Congress should remember that.
And for California, other than a possible defense industry windfall, Trump’s alleged “America first” budget would be disastrous.
So we also can only hope that Republicans in California’s congressional delegation remember what’s at stake as they sort through Trump’s paranoid wish list. Federal funding makes up about a third of California’s budget, including more than $17 billion this fiscal year in Medicaid reimbursements, much of which gets spent in the Central Valley.
State lawmakers are working hard to buttress the state against Trumpian fallout. But the president’s plans would punish the state severely, and not just in its savaging of government health insurance.
His proposal to cut 31 percent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget would kill federal efforts to restore the San Francisco Bay and to make the air breathable for children in the San Joaquin Valley. His plan to eliminate thousands of Section 8 housing vouchers would undercut the initiative to address homelessness just passed by Los Angeles voters.
His cuts to the Department of Labor would end access to job training for nearly 400,000 Californians, and his cuts to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would jeopardize flood control in Northern California, including $3 billion worth of levee projects in Sacramento.
His transportation cuts would preempt new transit projects such as the Caltrain electrification on the Peninsula and Sacramento’s green line expansion to the airport, and put the kibosh on efforts to improve security on Sacramento Regional Transit. Amtrak’s L.A.-to-Seattle Coast Starlight and Chicago-to-San Francisco California Zephyr would close.
Fifty million dollars in reimbursement to California jails for incarcerating undocumented felons would disappear. So would more than $4 million in grants here for community policing. So would tuition assistance, after school programs and legal aid that helps veterans find housing and helps protect seniors from scammers. He would slash Title X contraception services that prevented more than 230,000 unintended pregnancies in this state last year.
California’s Republicans in Congress may feel it’s high time this state stopped fixating on high-speed rail and services for undocumented people; in fact, current spending on such items could be axed many times over and still not cover the loss of federal Medi-Cal reimbursements.
But while they’re at it, they should ask themselves whether Trump’s strange, hostile priorities really reflect who we want to be as a state and a nation. Increasingly, the possibility that they’ll transcend this president and remember who they are and where they came from is our only hope.