America’s New Priorities Laid Bare.
President Trump’s budget has been announced and I’m sure most of you already know that it includes nothing—Zero! Zip! Nada!—for Amtrak’s long-distance trains and for a number of important transit projects.
Of course there is consternation among rail advocates. NARP is firing out emails to its 28,000 members urging all of us to call—not write or email, but telephone—our Congressional delegations to protest. And of course we should and most of us will.
Yes, I’m upset about what is clearly an attack on Amtrak’s long-distance network. But I am struck by the fact that almost every one of those trains serves small cities and towns in states that voted for Trump. So if you live in one of those states and use Amtrak, and if you voted for Trump, congratulations. Your president just screwed you.
But I find that I am even more distressed by what his proposed budget does in areas other than transportation:
- It eliminates funding for museums and libraries and dance companies and orchestras and theaters, money that has come from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
- It cuts all funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which means public television and National Public Radio.
- It eliminate 50 programs and more than 3,000 positions at the EPA.
The list goes on and on. I won’t continue because by now you’ve already heard most of it anyway.
As upset as I am by his denigration of the long-distance trains, I am even more distressed by what his budget as a whole tells the rest of the civilized world about the priorities of this country’s current leadership . . . leadership that presumably represents the wishes of somewhat less than half of our population.
But what I find almost unbearable is that all these cuts—to Amtrak and to intelligent broadcasting and to the arts—won’t even begin to cover the cost of building his useless, stupid, unnecessary fucking wall.
As C.L. notes, the budget cuts a lot of pet projects favored by people who weren’t going to agree with anything Mr Trump does.
What is more significant is that it continues funding for the Export-Import Bank, a nest of crony capitalists. That’s going to antagonize some people who might be inclined to agree with some of the things Mr Trump has proposed. (I bet there are other instances of corporate welfare, including capital spending on weapons systems the brass don’t want, but vote-whoring Congressmen do, if you dig into the details.)
And nowhere in any of the proposals do I see the infrastructure spending on the faster trains Our President sometimes speaks of.
I remember that past Presidents George W Bush (can’t remember what George H W Bush did) as well as Ronald Reagan constantly came in with budgets zero’ing out Amtrak which was very frustrating at the time. Thankfully it is Congress who will be dealing with this and hopefully things will go as they did under these previous administrations. That said Mr. Trump really needs to be educated that this is anti-infrastructure, that the system is needed and used by convincing fact and truth. It is also hopeful that a growing number of Republicans in Congress are appreciating these things. It should not be legislated that we must travel long-distance by air or car. There are those who either cannot or will not.
Many of the programs Trump is cutting are supported by voters who would never vote for him anyways. This is actually a “logical” and somewhat rational (although wrong and shortsighted) political move by Trump – it’s weird.
Jim, your article was right on the money – literally and figuratively. While calling your representatives is a great idea, some of us, such as myself, are in districts where we are represented by Democrats who would never support 45’s budget proposal (I just cannot bring my self to say the name). I think a better use of our time would be to contact the Republican members and asking them to grow a pair and rewrite the budget. As a nation we need arts, transportation and air we can breathe. Keep up the fight Jim!
Your last paragraph says it all.
I totally agree.