Make Them Hear You! is a weekly feature on KGNU, produced by Chris Mohr, letting listeners know how they can have their voices heard on issues up before Congress. You can hear it Wednesday mornings at 8.20am during the Morning Magazine.
Congress is in recess for the next ten days or so, so you may want to ask your Senators and Congresspeople if any town hall meetings are being planned in Colorado. Senator Cory Gardner has famously refused any live town hall meetings, and has been getting thousands of calls asking him to keep the campaign promise he made to have town hall meetings when he was running for office.
This is also a good time to consider your thoughts about the Trump budget, which will inform Congressional debates for months to come. Trump’s budget director has said that he listened to old Trump campaign speeches and tried to put numbers to Trump’s campaign promises.
This is what he came up with: Defense spending goes up $52 billion with a special focus on defeating ISIS, even though we outspend the next six country’s combined military budgets; Homeland Security increases by $2.8 billion so they have more power to demand the cellphone passwords of American citizens at airports; Veterans’ Affairs goes up by $5.9 billion; NASA takes a small cut; IRS and Treasury is reduced by another $500 million after several deep cuts since 2010; the Justice Department loses 4% of its budget; the Department of Energy takes a bigger cut; the Department of Interior which manages National Parks and Federal lands takes a deep 12% cut; the Department of Education is slashed by 14%; Department of Commerce loses 16% of its ability to enforce antitrust laws plus NOAA and Sea Grant programs to help coastal cities deal with climate change and the like; the Corps of Engineers lose 16% of its infrastructure budget; Health and Human Services, which serves millions of low-income Trump voters and finances the National Institutes of Health, will see an 18% cut; the Department of Labor will have 21% fewer resources to enforce labor laws and finance the Community Service Employment Program; the Agriculture Department will have 21% less money to keep our food and water supply safe and eliminates the Child Nutrition Program; the State Department will lose 29% of the revenues they need to keep diplomats around to try to prevent war, finance the World Bank and UN peacekeeping missions; the EPA will be slashed 31% and climate science especially will lose a lot of support as well as the non-enforcement of carbon emissions from coal plants ; our highways will continue to deteriorate with a 13% cut in the Transportation Department budget; Housing will be cut 13%. Meals on Wheels, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities will see 100% cuts. The only major new infrastructure project in the budget is the Mexican wall.
With all those cuts, the Trump budget does nothing to bring us any closer to a balanced budget. That’s because of the huge increases in defense and security spending. The increase in Trump’s military spending exceeds the entire defense budgets of most countries. Trump voters as a group will be hit very hard by the cuts in benefits they would face from this budget. Homeland Security sees a big budget increase, but some programs within that department are being cut to make way for a $4,5 billion increase for border security and immigration enforcement. Then there’s an extra $1.5 billion to increase deportation efforts. Hundreds of millions of dollars are budgeted to hire more immigration enforcement agents. The Denver Post called the budget “a laughable offer that should make both Republicans and Democrats walk away from the negotiating table.”
If there is a particular area of interest you want to pursue with your congressperson or Senators, you can find one budget item to focus on and share your ideas about with your Senators and your Representative while they are on recess. You can go back to the March 17 edition of the Denver Post for a though analysis of how Trump’s budget would impact the people and the environment of Colorado specifically. You may want to share how it will affect you and the people you know. You may also want to share your thoughts on how this budget was drawn up. To my knowledge, no Presidential budget has ever been created from a compilation of campaign speeches.