By Jorge Sigler
The federal budget proposed by the White House has been public for months and has elicited numerous discussions. Yet, to what degree are we aware and informed of the details of the budget? It is well known that the campaign promise of a border wall is included, costing tax payers 3 billion dollars. But, is that all? No, the budget makes reductions to most departments, with only two of the eighteen departments receiving increases. Some departments get cuts of over 20% and some over 30%; overall, the variance is of almost 200% (198.2%) of reductions for the entire federal budget. Yet, the 2018 budget is $7.8 billion above 2017’s.
Such a difference answers to the fact that the largest reductions, percentually, are applied to departments with initially low allocations. The following are the individual implications for each department:
It is important to notice that most reductions are (percentually) on double digits, with the E.P.A. taking the worst hit (31%). For this particular case, the reduction is referred to as “savings,” unlike all other agencies in which the cuts are referred to as a “decrease.” The E.P.A. is a vital department currently, as Texas and Florida are horrifying reminders of the dire need for this department.
Other noticeable reductions include the Dept. of Agriculture, which gets a 21% decrease. This reduction excludes Public Law 480 Title II which provides U.S. food assistance in response to emergencies and disasters around the world, and provides development-oriented resources to help improve long-term food security. What’s interesting about this decrease is that this reduction is not aligned with the administration’s executive order of April 25th focusing on the promotion of agriculture. The Dept. of Labor also gets a reduction of 21%, which is not aligned with the House’s promises on employment.
The two departments receiving an increase are the Dept. of Veterans Affairs and the Dept. of Defense. The Dept. of Defense sees a substantial increase of $52 billion (8%). The budgetary increase for this department is larger by $3.5 billion than the entire reductions made to all other departments combined ($45.85 billion).
Along with all these concerning decreases, a special priority has been integrated within the budget for Homeland Security, the controversial $3 billion of tax-payers money allocated for the construction of the presidentially promised border wall, a promise on which the current administration is so fixated that presidential threats of governmental shut-down have been issued.
The proposed 2018 budget will affect every single individual living within our territory; therefore, it is important that we are well informed of the proposed cuts to understand how we can all be affected. Even when we see a strong focus on the White House’s threat of shutting down the government if the border wall allocation budget is not approved, there is much more at stake. We must all express our position and speak up for those affected, it is our civic and moral duty to do so, to stand up and protect each other. For we are all being held hostage in demand for a border wall, and such threats should not be tolerated.
Notes from the author
Percentual variations for certain budgets may not match the monetary decrease due to exclusions and extraordinary requests that are not factored in. The table parallels the information provided by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget; such variations were not factored in by the Office of Management and Budget. The author never made the decision to exclude them. The exclusions and extraordinary requests are listed below:
- The Dept. of Agriculture budget excludes funding for P.L. 480 Title II. Public Law 480 title II provides U.S. food assistance in response to emergencies and disasters around the world, and provides development-oriented resources to help improve long-term food security.
- The Dept. of Homeland Security includes a special request of $3 billion for the construction of the border wall.
- The decrease to the Dept. of Justice excludes mandatory spending changes involving the Crime Victims Fund and the Assets Forfeiture Fund.
- The decrease to the Dept. of State, USAID & Treasury Intl. Programs includes an extraordinary request of $12 billion as Overseas Contingency Operations funding for extraordinary costs, primarily in war areas like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan (hence the 28% variation).
- The increase to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs also requests legislative authority and $3.5 billion in mandatory budget authority in 2018 to continue the Veterans Choice Program.
Office of Management and Budget (Mar. 2017). “America First. A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.” Retrieved from the White House governmental website.