Trump pours gas on the arts, humanities, sciences, and education, then asks Congress for a match

The Trump administration published its first budget (pdf), and it includes serious reducations to the arts, sciences, humanities, educational programs, and some financial aid.

The cuts are widespread.

NEH logoTwo major agencies, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, would be axed completely.  In fact, the number of axed agencies is breathtaking.*

As the New York Times observes,

While the combined annual budgets of both endowments — about $300 million — are a tiny fraction of the $1.1 trillion of total annual discretionary spending, grants from these agencies have been deeply valued financial lifelines and highly coveted honors for artists, musicians, writers and scholars for decades.

The State Department’s Educational and Cultural Exchange (ECE) programs will experience “Reduce[d] funding”, without a dollar figure.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) gets chopped “by $5.8 billion to $25.9 billion.”  Also in the medical area, the budget “[e]liminates $403 million in health professions and nursing training programs,” because they  “lack evidence that they significantly improve the Nation’s health workforce.”

Space science gets a mixed treatment, with some programs boosted, while others are cut.  Orion gets more funding, while an asteroid redirect mission is no more.  The proposed Europa landing is cut “[t]o preserve the balance of NASA’s science portfolio and maintain flexibility to conduct missions that were determined to be more important by the science community”, but a flyby is left unscathed.  Climate change-related science is also hit: “The Budget terminates four Earth science missions (PACE, OCO-3, DSCOVR Earth-viewing instruments, and CLARREO Pathfinder) and reduces funding for Earth science research grants. ”

For financial aid, Inside Higher Ed sums up the cuts:

work-study would be cut “significantly.” Further, the administration is calling for the elimination of the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, which go to low-income college students. Eliminating the program will “reduce complexity,” the budget proposal says, and produce $732 million in savings. In addition, the administration wants to eliminate GEAR-UP and reduce funding for TRIO programs, which prepare disadvantaged students for college and help them succeed once enrolled.

Trump budget proposal header

The budget proposal’s header.

Other educational funding support programs to be hit:

  • The proposed budget “eliminates the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), for a savings of $434 million from the 2017 annualized CR level.”
  • “Decreases Federal support for job training and employment service formula grants, shifting more responsibility for funding these services to States, localities, and employers.”  That shift-to-states theme is recurring elsewhere in this administration’s thinking.
  • “Eliminates the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s unproven training grants, yielding savings of almost $11 million from the 2017 annualized CR level…”

On the positive or at least neutral side, IHE observes:

In the U.S. Department of Education, the budget pledges level funding for Pell Grants, the primary federal program to support low-income students. Funding for historically black colleges and other minority-serving institutions would remain at current levels under the budget.

New America points out that the proposal also grabs billions from Pell’s current surplus.  They also argue that the budget plan’s proposed maintenance of HBCUs is actually a reduction of year-over-year spending.

Along the lines of supporting American industry, the budget offers this proposal without a dollar amount: “Helps States expand apprenticeship, an evidence-based approach to preparing workers for jobs.”

There is also this open-ended thought: “The Budget continues to fund health workforce activities that provide scholarships and loan repayments in exchange for service in areas of the United States where there is a shortage of health professionals.”

The Pentagon would do well overall in the budget; from an education perspective, they will get boosts to training.

The President’s Budget would ensure the Armed Forces have the training, equipment, and infrastructure they need…

Key investments in maintenance capacity, training systems, and additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighters would enable the Air Force, which is now the smallest it has been in history**, to counter the growing number of complex threats… [emphasis added]

The Fulbright Program survives in this budget.

On the K-12 side, the budget directs money to charters and school choice:

This additional investment in 2018 includes a $168 million increase for charter schools, $250 million for a new private school choice program, and a $1 billion increase for Title I, dedicated to encouraging districts to adopt a system of studentbased budgeting and open enrollment that enables Federal, State, and local funding to follow the student to the public school of his or her choice.

Let me offer a few first thoughts.

  1. This is just a proposal, handed to Congress to encourage them to adopt a budget very much like it.  There’s plenty of room for changes of all sorts.
  2. However, the GOP owns Congress.  If they fall in line, much of this could come to pass by year’s end.
  3. Apparently an expanded version of this is due out in May, so we should watch that for changes and greater details.
  4. Many of these items are consistent with Trump’s campaign statements during the election.
  5. If the arts, sciences, humanities, and education are to depend less on the federal government and more on states, we should watch for states competing with each other to either boost funding and attract these populations, or the reverse.
  6. Privatization is, unsurprisingly, a theme here, from apprenticeships to throwing people onto the market for support to boosting charter schools.
  7. While the document casts these cuts as cost savings, the amounts are really puny on the federal budget’s scale.  I don’t think it’s accurate to say this is about skewing the country towards war (the military budget grows) and away from culture.  Instead this feels more like pure culture war.

*”The Budget also proposes to eliminate funding for other independent agencies, including: the African Development Foundation; the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Chemical Safety Board; the Corporation for National and Community Service; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Delta Regional Authority; the Denali Commission; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the Inter-American Foundation; the U.S. Trade and Development Agency; the Legal Services Corporation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation; the Northern Border Regional Commission; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; the United States Institute of Peace; the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness; and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. ”

**The USAF is  “the smallest it has been in history”?  What an insane and weird claim.

UPDATED to include archive link to plan. Thanks to Lisa Griffin!

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4 Responses to Trump pours gas on the arts, humanities, sciences, and education, then asks Congress for a match

  1. Maybe the super wealthy will “trickle down” their huge tax cuts to the Arts & Humanities..

    • That’s the plan, I think. If you ask conservatives about the ethics of cutting government programs, one of their classic replies is that private philanthropy can take care of many needs.

      Beyond them, there’s a growing interest in cultivating wealthy people as patrons, given the implications of escalating income inequality.

  2. Pingback: Trump Proposes a Budget | Common Sense with Paul Jacob

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