Yoav Baram

Yoav Baram – Trumpocalypse now – A bleak peek into Trump’s budget proposal

Yoav Baram – Trumpocalypse now – A bleak peek into Trump’s budget proposal

It’s not easy being an Israeli liberal these days – with a prime minister under multiple investigations and a government that delivers ludicrous headlines every week. It’s hard not to sympathize with the U.S. under Trump’s administration. Although, it must be said that Israelis have put up with Bibi Netanyahu’s paranoid and narcissistic personality for the past 8 executive years (11 in total nice of you to ask) while Trump is only president for barely 2 months. Yeah I know. It all kind of seems like a global competition for which questionable leader will bring us back to the Middle Ages in the shortest period of time – starring Trump, Netanyahu, Erdoğan and Putin.

Last week we got a sneak peak at Trump’s budget proposal – a sort of a blueprint for the federal budget of the U.S.A – considered the highest in the world. Even though the proposal is expected to go through many changes by the time it will get approved in congress – it still offers a framework for how the world’s largest superpower’s budget is going to look like. We can also learn quite a lot about Trump’s priorities.

For those of you who aren’t American and wonder ‘Why should the US budget interest me?’ the answer is simple: The U.S is a global superpower whose impact on many fields – from economy (import-export, taxation, production, R&D etc..) to the environmental (pollution and CO2 emissions) is huge and felt on a global scale. Each of these fields affects – whether in a direct or indirect way – almost every country in the world.

This next video shows Trump’s budget outline:

 

How Trump’s budget proposal was put together? 

How Trump’s budget proposal was put together? 

Mick Mulvaney – director of the “Office of management and budget” and the man in charge of creating the budget was interviewed on CNN morning show. When asked how the budget was formed – he said these truly remarkable things: “We wrote the budget by going through the presidents speeches…the interviews he’d given and talking to him directly finding out what his priorities were”. A pretty logical answer if it wasn’t for the fact that this is Donald Trump we’re talking about. Mulvaney’s attempt to interpret Trump is kind of like religious zealots attempting to interpret the bible. It’s hard to agree on one version but it’s worth flushing humanity down the toilet in the process.

Here are some of the more interesting highlights from the budget proposal:

-A 54 billion dollar increase to the US defense budget – that includes among others the US army who already gets close to 600 billion dollars in budget, nearly 3 times as much as China’s military expenditure – whose listed second on the list after the US.
-A 28% cut in the state department – in charge of US foreign affairs.
-A 1.4 billion dollar increase to the “National Nuclear Security Administration”, I’ll leave Trump do the explaining on that one:

 

Yep, that is the president of the united states saying ‘Tippy Top’ while talking about weapons of mass destruction. I could think of 10 better ways to say that off the top of my head: ‘state of the art’, ‘top of the line’, ‘superior to us’, ‘more advanced’ or how about simply use the word ‘better’? like in ‘better to not sound like a moron’.

All that while the Energy department gets a 1.7 billion cut (the body in charge of R&D of energy technology, energy conservation and regulatory programs) and a 31% cut in the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), and once again I’ll let Trump explain in his own words:

 

 

Yeah…’We can leave a little bit of the environment, I don’t know what it’s even for and besides I have very little brain cells and I seem to be doing great’. By the way – needless to say that when Trump says “We can’t destroy businesses” he refers to businesses such as oil corporations, mineral and deforestation companies and polluting industries – the same ones who ‘suffer’ from the EPA regulations that Trump relates to in the clip as ‘a disgrace’ – and not to the ‘mom and pop store’ kind of businesses. It’s part of the EPA’s job to enforce environmental regulations regarding pollution and CO2 emissions. Which is important when you consider the fact that the U.S is the world’s number 2 contributor of CO2 emissions so it’s affect on the environment and its ‘contribution’ to global warming are huge (and are largely dismissed by Trump and his administration – including Trump’s new head of EPA – Scott Pruitt).

Of course no one is saying that there is no logic in making cuts, but the question here is where you make them and how much they contribute to the overall budget. The only fiscal logic in Trump’s budget proposal is basically one big F U that aims to devastate entire sections of the government without consideration to their contribution or cost. The entire EPA budget for example makes 0.02 percent out of the overall budget, and the state department is only 1.4 percent, a drop in the ocean compares to the fact that the US federal budget stands at about 4 trillion dollars (!).

And here in Israel we thought we had it rough with public broadcasting

Trump’s budget proposal also targets CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting) which similarly to the EPA – only makes up 0.02 percent of the total budget. CPB is responsible in part to PBS – which among other things gave us shows such as “The Muppets”. It seems like Elmo have suffered the first blow.

 

 

 

 

The cuts also threaten to heavily impact groups who voted for Trump as well as underprivileged populations. One example is the organization “Wings for kids” – and no – it’s not a KFC feeding program for the poor but an organization that offers after school programs and activities, which often serves kids from poor families as well as single parent families. Another example is the cut proposal in the “Appalachian Regional Commission” – an organization that funds 35 public programs in the state of Tennessee alone – and supports programs with names such as “Boys & Girls Club”, “Healthier Tennessee” and “Governor’s Books-Birth foundation”. What’s next? A cut in organizations like “Golden retriever puppies for the sad” and “Make every day Christmas day”?

To sum up: 

It’s always nice to see that the world’s biggest super power manages to run more ridiculously than our government here in Israel, which says A LOT. I mean our prime minister’s first priority right now is ‘how to slip from multiple investigations in 22 days around the world’ and ‘who will host the news at the new public broadcasting corporation‘ – which he had changed his my mind about at least 5 times in a 24 hours”. Only time will tell what will be left of Trump’s budget proposal after it goes through congress, but from its starting point, we can see a pretty clear trend.

It’s all about increasing the national defense while cutting, and sometimes even crippling some very important offices which have little to no impact on the overall budget. Trump’s budget proposal not only harms the environment (EPA cuts), science (among others a cut in NASA), culture (a cut in the “National Endowment for the Humanities” that offers grants to libraries, museums and universities) and public broadcasting (CPB), it also harms underprivileged populations, many of whom voted for Trump.

Trumpocalypse now – coming soon to theaters near you.

*All the clips are taken from “Last week tonight with John Oliver” which this article is based on, if you’re interested you can watch the full video here.

 

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