No sooner said than done. The White House’s budget plan for 2018 clearly reflects the policy change that Donald Trump wants to impose based on his campaign promises. With it, the new president is sending out a threatening and deeply erred message, both domestically and internationally.
All appropriations are shrinking except those dealing with defense, which is being beefed up by 10% in application of the principle voiced earlier by Trump himself: “We want to start winning wars again.” Homeland Security is getting a budget raise of 7%, as befits a president obsessed with domestic security, and the Veterans Affairs Department sees a 6% boost in funding.
Trump wants to send a message that “this is a strong-power administration”
All other departments are undergoing devastating cuts: education spending is being reduced by 14%, health by 16%, and the labor department’s funding is being slashed by 21%. Meanwhile, foreign aid is reduced by 29%, and the Environmental Protection Agency is on the brink of extinction, with funding cuts of 31%.
An economic analysis of the budget blueprint confirms the adverse diagnosis. It is perplexing to see an economy with growth rates of around 3% reducing public spending by 1.2% compared with 2017. It evidences an inward-looking attitude whose goal is to deactivate social welfare (beyond the dismantling of Obamacare, a move that will leave 24 million people without medical insurance) and to reduce the state’s job to policing the country and the outside world.
Given this budget, voters should be alarmed at the coherence of Trump’s proposed Infrastructure Investment Plan; chiefly, they should wonder who is going to finance it, and who will benefit from it. Because what we are dealing with is a deeply antisocial budget informed by a reactionary ideology.
This document clearly illustrates what Trump wants for his fellow citizens: for them to live entrenched behind their own borders, with practically no social protection, obsessed with security and prepared for any and all wars that might come their way.
Homeland security is getting a budget raise of 7%, as befits a president obsessed with security
The new president is making a mistake of historical proportions. If what he wants, as he announces every day through his simple rhetoric, is to put America First, the worst way to do that is by pulling the country out of multilateral organizations, walking away from negotiations with its allies, rejecting energy solidarity with the rest of the world, sinking into protectionist regression, destroying foreign aid, and bolstering war threats. We are hearing a message from someone who wants to lock himself up inside a bunker and who views the rest of the world as a hostile environment.
If so-called soft power is based on trying to attract others to your position, hard power means imposing your own interests on them. Budget director Mike Mulvaney has said that this “is not a soft-power budget; this is a hard-power budget” and added that he wants to send a message out to their allies and adversaries that “this is a strong-power administration.”
Big mistake. Trump will be strong, but he will not be influential in the world. Precisely the opposite: he will spend more money yet he will be more isolated.
English version by Susana Urra.