Opinions

Put Down the Big Stick

By Emmett Baumgarten, Staff Writer

Donald Trump is not one to speak softly, but it seems that he wishes to carry a big stick. He has a problem, however: his stick is too small. At least, that is what his latest budget proposal indicates. In order to size up his stick, he has proposed to trim down several smaller, yet crucial funds, and to heap the trimmings upon the military. This inane desire to increase military defense spending is founded in rampant paranoia among Trump’s followers regarding  ISIS and apocalyptic narratives. Trump should be directing U.S. funds towards the betterment of U.S. citizens’ lives, not wasting it away on excessive protection.

Many news reports about Trump’s proposed budget have focused on the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is essential to long-term quality of life in the U.S.; yet, unfortunately, that essentiality is controversial. Thus, it is best to exemplify this argument via Trump’s proposed cut to Health and Human Services funding, the HHS being a department that is, hopefully, regarded as essential and universally beneficial. Trump has proposed a 12 percent budget cut ($4.3 billion) to HHS compared to a 10 percent increase in military defense spending ($52.3 billion). While $4.3 billion is miniscule compared to $52.3 billion, $52.3 billion is miniscule compared $574 billion (the total proposed military defense budget) and $4.3 billion is microscopic compared to $574 billion. The $4.3 billion is much more efficiently spent funding HHS than to marginally increase the military defense budget — the law of diminishing returns. Trump isa businessman, he should know this; however, his budget makes it clear that he has, at the very least, disregarded it. Furthermore, Trump has proposed a 14 percent cut to educational spending ($9.2 billion). Education is indisputably critical to the long-term competitiveness of the U.S. workforce, and failure to invest in it will result in jobs being shipped overseas and a brain drain. For as much as Trump talks about returning jobs to the U.S., it would make sense for education to be a priority for him. It clearly is not. Perhaps that is indicative of his and his supporters’ true priorities.

Investing billions of dollars on high-tech gizmos to combat the guerrilla warfare tactics of belligerent groups in the Middle East, most recently ISIS, has always proved inefficient. Making significant cuts to almost every other government department — save Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security — is not only a waste of money, but is detrimental to U.S. society and quality of life. While Trump’s most fervent supporters are likely to get excited about a $53 billion defense budget increase, that money will not buy much in the military. The departments that the $53 billion will be plundered from will suffer incredible hindrances, as even $1 billion is invaluable to them. Perhaps it is time that Trump turned away from making his stick bigger and instead focused on whittling it down and investing in matters beneficial to American society and well-being, like proposing a healthcare policy that is not universally seen as terrible.

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