By Harry Colbert, Jr.
According to the White House Budget Plan there will be a $54 billion increase in defense spending in 2018 that is offset by targeted reductions elsewhere.
That “elsewhere” is in healthcare with a possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act, education, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Endowment for the Arts and others. Minnesota’s 5th District congressman and Deputy Chair of the DNC, Rep. Keith Ellison, hosted a press conference with community members affected by President Trump’s proposed budget.
During the March 20 event at his district office at the Minneapolis Urban League, Ellison and a host of others expressed outrage at proposed cuts.
“Who would believe we’re willing to cut 6,000 people out of the EPA, cut HUD funding … zero out Big Bird and defund the National Endowment for the Arts,” said Ellison.
The cuts would offset Trump’s proposed increases including what he called “one of the largest increases in defense spending.” His budget plan also “significantly increases the budget for immigration enforcement at the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, includes additional resources for a wall on the southern border with Mexico.”
Ellison said the proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act is less about providing access to healthcare and more about lining the pockets of the rich.
“The Republican healthcare bill is a tax cut for the wealthy disguised as a healthcare bill,” said Ellison, who said he has already voted no more than 60 times against Republican bills to repeal President Obama’s landmark legislation, the Affordable Care Act. “It (the Republican plan) drives up the cost for older Americans and knocks many more off of healthcare.”
Ellison said repealing the Affordable Care Act will cause many low and moderate income Americans to have to make serious life choices.
“This is not about healthcare versus a cell phone, this is about healthcare versus being able to stay warm in a Minnesota winter or cool in a Miami summer.”
One of those who directly affected by Trump’s proposed cuts is cancer survivor Karen Laumb. Laumb said Trump’s plan has caused for sleepless nights.
“I have a pre-existing condition, so this plan scares me,” said Laumb, who also spoke out against proposed cuts to research funding.
Cuts to the EPA could leave thousands if not millions at risk said Robert Moffitt, communications director at the American Lung Association in Minnesota.
“A 31 percent cut to EPA would dramatically weaken our nation’s ability to clean up air pollution under the Clean Air Act, a law that has saved hundreds of thousands of lives over the past decade,” said Moffitt. “An 18 percent cut to the Department of Health and Human Services would jeopardize America’s health security. The drastic cuts proposed to federal public health and biomedical infrastructure in the president’s budget would weaken our nation’s health security and result in more lives lost to lung disease.”
Jim Pagliarini, president and CEO of TPT – public television in the Twin Cities – said defense spending shouldn’t come at the expense of healthcare, EPA or the arts
“We can have both a strong country and a civilized country,” said Pagliarini.
He said if funding for the National Endowment for the Arts is zeroed out public television and radio it will not be able to continue.
“It (public broadcasting) will go away,” said Pagliarini.
“Trump’s budget is an America without arts, a less educated America, an America with dirty air and water,” said Ellison. “We’ve got to look at the whole picture.”
A copy of Trump’s proposed budget is online at www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/budget/fy2018/2018_blueprint.pdf.