With his new budget, Donald Trump proposes to take more than $1 trillion in taxpayer money and disperse fully $750 billion to the military. Out of every taxpayer dollar, in other words, 62 cents go to the military and our militarized Department of Homeland Security (Veterans’ benefits take another seven cents).
That leaves just 31 cents for all the rest: education, job training, community economic development, housing, safe drinking water and clean air, health and science research, and the prevention of war through diplomacy and humanitarian aid.
The budget also cuts billions from non-discretionary anti-poverty programs. Medicaid and food stamps would be cut and disfigured beyond recognition.
At every turn, the Trump budget finds vast billions for militarization, while it cuts much smaller poverty and other programs, claiming the goal is to save money. It includes $164 billion in war funding, but it cuts $4.7 billion in economic development and food assistance to other nations. It finds $14billion for a vanity project military branch called the space force, while it cuts $1.2billion for a program that’s built and preserved more than one million affordable homes. It includes $11 billion for contractor Lockheed Martin to build more F-35 jet fighters, but it cuts $3.7billion in heating and cooling assistance for six million poor households.
It includes more than $12 billion for a wall at our border, while it cuts $1billion from Job Corps, the program that provides yearly training and work experience to 50,000 poor (and mostly black) youths.
The budget pretends to be fiscally responsible, but it relies to an unprecedented degree on one of the biggest budget gimmicks of the 21st century, a Pentagon slush fund known as Overseas Contingency Operations. This account was first established to pay for wars in 2001, but is now available to use for any Pentagon wish not in the regular budget. The Trump budget takes full advantage, more than doubling funding for this pot of money to $165 billion, up from $81 billion enacted last year.
An additional $9 billion in the military budget is listed under “emergency requirements,” which may provide funds to build the border wall —a political football that President Trump shows no signs of dropping. Administration sources report that the President’s budget also includes $8.6 billion to fund construction of a border wall, in addition to $3.6 billion to repay military construction funds he has attempted to seize to pay toward the wall.
Unjust budgets and misplaced priorities aren’t just a Trump problem. The United States has been addicted to excessive military spending at the expense of true security at home for decades.
A presidential budget never makes it through Congress unchanged – but what happens to it there depends on raising our public voices. A different set of priorities would stop our endless warmaking and use the vast wealth of this nation to end poverty and lead to true security for all of us. It would invest in healthcare, well-paying jobs, affordable higher education, safe drinking water and clean air.
Information for this piece was excerpted from reporting in The Guardian and the National Priorities Project.