This is a version of a letter I sent to Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Tom Rice to share my concerns about President Trump’s proposed budget and the negative impact it will have on Horry County and South Carolina. I urge fellow citizens to share their concerns with them as well.
I won’t even spend any time on the cuts to the arts. Suffice it to say, I know to the bottom of my soul that any diminishment of the arts will be a diminishment to our quality of life, in measurable and immeasurable ways for generations to come.
Instead, I draw your attention to cuts that aim directly at our coast, which provides so much in tourism tax revenue, and to our many rural communities, some of which were devastated by floods this year and last.
I gathered these specifics from The Washington Post’s breakout of the proposed budget’s impact on departments.
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Specifically, Commerce Department cuts will:
-- Cut $250 million from coastal research programs that ready communities for rising seas and worsening storms
-- Eliminate the Economic Development Administration, which gives out grants in struggling communities (of which our state has many).
Along the same lines, cuts to the USDA will directly hurt our farming communities, among others.
-- Unspecified staff reductions at USDA service center agencies around the country
-- Cut $95 million from the Rural Business and Cooperative Service
Education cuts expose the lie that we want to help people get out of poverty and off of so-called “entitlement” programs in a state that ranked 41st in the most recent education test scores.
Specifically it will:
-- Cut $3.7 billion in grants for teacher training, after-school and summer programs, and aid programs to first-generation and low-income students
-- “Significantly” reduce federal work-study aid to college students
At a time when the aging population in our state and nation is, forgive the pun, booming, cuts to the Labor Department budget will:
-- Eliminate the Senior Community Service Employment Program, which helps low-income seniors find work
-- Eliminates grants that help nonprofit groups and public agencies pay for safety and health training
The Transportation Department cuts will reduce air safety and aim straight at some of SC’s priority projects, Interstate-73 to be exact. They will:
-- Shifts air traffic control outside the government
-- Eliminate funding for many new transit projects and support for long-distance Amtrak trains
-- Eliminate $175 million in subsidies for commercial flights to rural airports
-- Cut $499 million from the TIGER grant program, which has funded dozens of road, transit and other projects
Cuts to the EPA will be catastrophic, whether you believe in climate science (I do) or not. While climate-change initiatives have been a priority, the department does far more than that. Pollution, even if you don’t think it impacts the ozone layer (it does), is a health hazard for all of us. The cuts will:
-- Eliminate more than 50 programs and 3,200 jobs
-- Discontinue funding for international climate-change programs
-- Cut funding for the Office of Research and Development in half
-- Cut funding for the Superfund cleanup program and the Office of Enforcement and Compliance
Lest you think I am just a cranky retiree who doesn’t support our president, there are things in this budget I applaud, including: adding $4.4 billion in new funding to expand health services and modernize VA's benefit claims system and other services; adding $249 million of Department of Justice funding for the FBI, largely aimed at counterterrorism, cyber threats, more timely firearms purchase background checks and more crime data; and increasing funding for lead-hazard reduction from $110 million to $130 million.
Still, I don’t see how anyone who means it when they say they care about the health, education, success and quality of life of their constituents can support these cuts. Please do the right thing for all of us, rich or poor.
The writer is a media consultant with Show and Tell Media Pros and former editor of The Sun News.