Opinion: Trump's budget does not support causes that make America great

By Dora Totoian | April 10, 2017 4:54pm


Dora Totoian

by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

When my family and I came to the United States nearly 17 years ago from Romania, PBS was one of six channels we had on the television in our small Cleveland apartment.

While my dad was at work, my mom and I would watch children’s programs to learn English. Though I started going to preschool a year later and began learning English more formally, PBS entertained and taught us in those days, so it holds sentimental and educational value for me.

When I saw President Trump’s proposed budget a few weeks ago, it pained me to see that PBS, along with other programs, would have its funding cut or reduced.

The intricacies of funding PBS don’t mean that ending its federal funding will make it disappear entirely. However, the motivation to eliminate this funding, along with ending or decreasing that for other programs supporting the humanities, the arts, the environment, health, social welfare programs, and the State Department speaks to a vision of America that will not “make it great again.”

I also realize that the proposed Trump budget is just that — proposed — and likely wouldn’t pass exactly as it stands, but its focus, to deny financial support to organizations and causes that do make America great, is not representative of the America I know.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), an agency that awards funding to “museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television, and radio stations, and individual scholars,” receives $148 million per year, or 0.003 percent of the 2016 federal budget. The proposed Trump budget would eliminate the agency. The aforementioned institutions supported by the NEH serve to widen our understanding of the world while also raising our cultural awareness and tolerance. What message does eradicating the agency communicate about the work these institutions do and the roles they play in our lives?

The proposed Trump budget would also reduce funding for the Department of Health and Human Services, specifically by scaling down the budget of the National Institutes of Health, an agency that conducts valuable medical research. Many members of Congress from both parties are opposed to this aspect of the proposal as last year, Congress voted to increase the agency’s funding. And for good reason. The agency administers most of its funds to scientists researching “cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, AIDS and other illnesses.” By decreasing the agency’s funding, it would render it less able to investigate diseases that will affect nearly every American directly or indirectly.

In addition to reducing the funds of or eliminating the two aforementioned agencies, the proposed Trump budget does the same with tens of other agencies that serve Americans.

Again, the Trump budget isn’t definitive, as it’s Congress that details the final version. As it stands, the budget represents what the executive branch thinks merit the government’s support. By proposing to end or decrease funding for agencies that support the most vulnerable in our society, care for the environment, work to improve our health, promote the life of the mind, and other agencies that protect and improve many aspects of our lives, the budget conveys that these areas are not priorities for the new administration.

The agencies that would suffer if this budget is passed as it stands promote intellectual endeavors that enrich our lives, enable developments that will improve our health, and carry out work in a variety of realms that benefit all Americans.

It’s a proposal that if passed, would begin to craft a starkly different image of America than the one that two-year-old watching PBS in Cleveland has come to know.