Budget of Bloody Zeros

Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Take President Donald Trump’s promise for a great America and health protection for all citizens. Compare it to his full 2018 budget, unveiled while he was visiting five countries in the Middle East and Europe for eight days.

The difference between Trump’s individual promises and the corresponding budget numbers exposes his grand lie. Rather than greatness, rather than good health, rather than better lives, Trump’s priority is enriching the wealthy while leaving those in need to rot.

Trump’s budget adds zeros to bank balances that are plump and undercuts the life spans of those relying on the government to help get through difficult lives. For too many people struggling to survive day by day, breath by breath, this budget cuts their fragile lives to zero.

On the Saturday before his inauguration, Trump gave a late-night interview on health care to The Washington Post. “We’re going to have insurance for everybody,” he said. “There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.”

In his Feb. 28 address to a joint session of Congress, Trump called for health insurance “reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs and, at the same time, provide better health care.”

MULVANEY DOCTRINE

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, put the plan together. Tuesday, at the White House, he presented it to reporters. Many of the budget decisions differ dramatically from Trump’s declarations.

The idea that government should serve the people confounds Mulvaney. The budget is called “the ‘New Foundation for American Greatness,’” he said, “but I wanted to call it the ‘Taxpayer First Budget.’” He added, “We looked at this budget through the eyes of the people who are actually paying the bills.”

The greatness of the nation as a whole: ignored. Under the Mulvaney doctrine, the more tax one pays, the more say one gets. Never mind the health, safety and welfare of those with thin bank accounts or none at all.

Some attention needs to be paid to those who pay less in taxes or who do not make enough to pay, Mulvaney said. “Yes, you have to have compassion for folks who are receiving the federal funds but also you have to have compassion for the folks who are paying it.”

Congratulations for wealth? Sure. Compassion for wealth? No.

HEALTH GUILLOTINE

The New York Times combed through the budget. It pulled out cuts and escalations, measured over 10 years.

Under the Mulvaney doctrine, Trump’s budget cuts the category of Health Care Services by $1.91 trillion — 28.5 percent less.

In that category, the budget cuts Medicaid by $627 billion — 11.8 percent less.

It slashes two others in the category: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cut by $18 billion — 26.9 percent less. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, cut by $11.2 billion — 25 percent less.

The budget cuts the category of Health Research and Training by $92.3 billion — 24.6 percent less. It cuts the National Institutes of Health by $86.5 billion — 24.8 percent less.

In the category of Consumer and Occupational Health and Safety, the budget cuts $16.5 billion — 29.1 percent less.

This category’s grievous gashes, department by department, astound:

  • The Food and Drug Administration, cut by $12.6 billion — 39.7 percent less.
  • Food safety and inspection, cut by $1.8 billion — 15.1 percent less.
  • Occupational and mine safety and health, cut by $1.8 billion — 16 percent less.
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission, cut by $253 million — 17 percent less.

The budget cuts the category of Food and Nutrition Assistance by $207.7 billion — 18.1 percent less.

The budget devastates two important operations in this category: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps), cut by $193.6 billion — 25.3 percent less. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), cut by $11.1 billion — 15.3 percent.

NEGLIGENCE

These budget decisions show that Trump and Mulvaney do not care about Americans’ health or safety, or the feeding of famished families. The cuts show particular disdain for the nutrition of women, infants and children, which is important for a healthy future across the U.S.

Trump’s budget slashes funding for many more valuable agencies and programs, never mind pumping up operations that are funded sufficiently.

Congress is unlikely to take up Trump’s budget, anymore than it has done so for his predecessors. The 2018 budget takes effect Oct. 1.

Nonetheless, the president’s radically oppressive plan poses a danger: It opens the door to members of Congress hoping to pick and choose among Trump’s cuts. Many of these cuts would have been dismissed out-of-hand before this week.

Now, they carry the president’s seal of approval. This gives life to ideas so extreme that they will take frail human lives — those of American citizens.

Thus, will those deadly zeros make their bloody mark.

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