Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.
The budget plan released last week by the White House is almost exactly what many people expected it to be. A quick summary: there were dramatic increases in defense, the Department of Homeland Security and nuclear management as well as school choice and veteran affairs. These increases are obviously met with dramatic cuts to the State, Labor, Agriculture, Commerce and Transportation Departments, the Environmental Protection Agency, the IRS and various independent agencies that are funded with tax dollars.
I’m not here to berate Trump, but implementing these kinds of policies has strong implications geopolitically, socially and environmentally.
Something of large importance to many of the people who voted for the new administration is security. The White House responded with a 10% increase in defense spending, $52 billion dollars, but was also met with massive cuts in the State Department, which manages all of the United States foreign diplomacy. This ultimately means less money to discuss things and negotiate and more money towards building arms. To other foreign states this simply means aggression.
Before Defense Secretary James Mattis was in his current position, he was Commander of the U.S. Central Command. During his time there he defended the State Department saying, “if you don’t fully fund the State Department, I have to buy more ammunition.”
Personally, this is a frightening prospect. There have been several examples throughout history that show diplomacy solves problems much faster with fewer lives lost. With tensions rising, the image we send to countries around the world is important and this route escalates the situation before there even is one.
Back at home, a reduction in funding smaller arts and science agencies impacts us a little more directly. These are agencies that provide and support a channel to express the voices of people, often those of marginalized communities. It’s how we can support art from those who normally don’t have access to traditional means. It’s by these venues that we support scientific research opportunities for students to better prepare them for their careers, which many students here at CSU benefit from. Supporting these people in science and art is how we keep our identity.
Though, above all else, the most frustrating proposal for me was the 31.4% cut to the EPA. While many people are concerned about their chances to regulate oil and gas companies in order to mitigate climate change, it will even limit their ability keep our water and air clean.
Even if you don’t believe in climate change (though you should), pollution causes approximately 200,000, 100 percent preventable, deaths per year. This issue runs much deeper than classic climate change denial and is why the EPA is so important. Water quality due to our infrastructure is an issue we need to worry about in the U.S. The EPA reports that 41 states had higher than acceptable levels of lead in the water supply over the last three years.
While this budget plan is only a proposal and will eventually be decided by Congress, this is important in understanding what the Trump administration’s attitude will be regarding these important issues. We’ve heard him talk about these things vaguely during the campaign, but this is our first glimpse at to what extent these statements will be.
And I’ll just mention, because the budget needs to be decided by Congress, we still have a voice expressing what we want. Seeing how hard Trump fights back against those changes, which I’m hoping there will be, will be a test of how much he is a representation of the people’s interest.
Collegian columnist Alexandra Stettner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @alexstetts.