January 19, 2017; The Hill

The Hill reported yesterday that according to a “blueprint” document being circulated, Donald Trump plans to try to cut spending (read, “programs”) drastically once he takes office. For instance, he will attempt to have the Corporation for Public Broadcasting be privatized, and he would like to see the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities eliminated altogether. The Heritage Foundation has long pushed for the elimination of the NEA, and that will become relevant as we see who has been working on the blueprint; meanwhile, one can just hear Sly Stallone thanking his lucky stars he had the sense to stay clear.

There are reportedly $10.5 million in proposed cuts. Under the new so-called “skinny budget,” the Departments of Commerce, Energy, Transportation, Justice, and State would have their funding reduced, and some programs eliminated entirely or transferred elsewhere. The Hill reports:

  • “At the Department of Justice, the blueprint calls for eliminating the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Violence Against Women Grants and the Legal Services Corporation, and for reducing funding for its Civil Rights and its Environment and Natural Resources divisions.”
  • The Department of Energy “would roll back funding for nuclear physics and advanced scientific computing research to 2008 levels, eliminate the Office of Electricity, eliminate the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and scrap the Office of Fossil Energy, which focuses on technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”
  • “Under the State Department’s jurisdiction, funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are candidates for elimination.”

Transition team members Russ Vought and John Gray, both of whom previously worked for the Heritage Foundation, are hard at work on a preliminary budget document expected in the next 45 days; a full budget can be expected by the hundred-day mark or so. But early proposals are likely to be released to federal departments and agencies soon after the inauguration ceremony.

At this point, not even cabinet picks presumably on track to manage those budgets know the exact nature of the proposed cuts. Clearly, the presidential budget will be no shoo-in for passage as the nation’s real-life budget. It will require many layers of feedback and deliberation as the agencies and Congress gets hold of it, but its skeleton, according to The Hill, approximates what we envisioned in our most sleepless nights over the past few months.—Ruth McCambridge