Even as the White House descends into further disarray, the Trump/Bannon administration has continued its campaign of political shock and awe, from its stalled Muslim ban to its gutting of environmental protections to its ongoing assault on Obamacare. Now the other shoe is about to drop—a determined effort to shred the social safety net and dumb down the citizenry by slashing government support for the arts and public broadcasting.
As The New York Times first reported, Trump’s newly confirmed budget director, former South Carolina congressman Mick Mulvaney, has assembled a “hit list” of agencies and programs to eliminate. Current candidates include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities; Legal Services Corporation; and AmeriCorps. And Trump—no doubt egged on by Mike Pence—has pledged to cut the more than $500 million in funding to Planned Parenthood, which goes to provide basic, life-saving health services to women all over the country, not to performing abortions, as the organization’s enemies claim. In fact, only 3 percent of the services provided by Planned Parenthood are related to abortions, versus 31 percent devoted to contraception. All of the programs on the Trump/Mulvaney hit list have been longtime targets of the Republican right, in some cases dating back to the Reagan era and others to the so-called “Gingrich revolution” of the 1990s.
The proposed cuts have everything to do with right-wing ideology and nothing to do with fiscal responsibility. All of the programs slated for closing provide essential public services. All of the programs slated for closure, plus the proposed Planned Parenthood cuts, cost the federal government a combined total of about $3 billion per year. That grand totally amounts to one-half of one percent of, the current Pentagon budget, now runs at about $600 billion per year. And that’s before Trump’s pledge to throw an additional $1 trillion at that bloated department over the next ten years.
Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation, which has aggressively pushed its skewed budget priorities on the new administration, tried to justify Trump’s ill-considered proposals: “I think it’s an important endeavor to try to get rid of things that are unnecessary… The American public has a lot of contempt for how government is run in Washington, in no small part because there is so much waste.”