Saturday, 18 March 2017
Trump budget slashes foreign aid, but not for apartheid israel
Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposal would slash the US foreign affairs budget by almost a third. It would also eliminate key programs for low-income communities at home.
The president is asking Congress for just under $26 billion in base funding for the State Department and the US international aid agency, a $10 billion reduction.
According to the blueprint published by the administration on Wednesday, the US would eliminate all funding for international climate change initiatives, and reduce funding for UN agencies and peacekeeping, international educational exchanges and the World Bank.
But one area remains untouched. The president’s proposal “provides $3.1 billion to meet the security assistance commitment to Israel, currently at an all-time high.”
That record-breaking aid is set to soar even higher: last year, the Obama administration signed an agreement to boost US aid to Israel to $3.8 billion annually from 2019 onwards.
As the Congressional Research Service notes, “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign assistance since World War II.” As of 2016, that aid had totalled $127.4 billion.
It’s a point of pride for Trump and his backers to smash Washington orthodoxies. His proposal does away with a number of longstanding programs, many much smaller than spending on Israel.
While boosting bloated military spending by another $54 billion, Trump’s budget would, as The Washington Post reports, eliminate dozens of federal programs that assist the poor and fund scientific research.
Among those on the chopping block in Trump’s so-called “America First” budget are the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, a $3 billion a year fund to help heat homes in the winter, and the Community Development Block Grant, which supports affordable housing and homelessness programs.
It would also eliminate federal funding of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
The Environmental Protection Agency would lose 50 programs and thousands of workers.
And, the budget would slash $5.8 billion – or 20 percent – of the funding of the National Institutes of Health, which has been instrumental in finding cures for disease.
In the US system, the president proposes a budget, but it is up to Congress to decide to pass it and there are sure to be fierce fights to protect many of the programs that face such deep cuts.
But given the “bipartisan” consensus, don’t expect much of a battle over the billions of dollars that will continue to flow to Israel’s apartheid regime while vulnerable Americans bear the brunt of Trump’s austerity.