Although the Trump administration is still in its infancy, the gears are already turning rapidly to defund, severely limit, or privatize — and ultimately incapacitate — significant parts of the US government as it currently functions. The first reports of “dramatic cuts” came before the inauguration, suggesting that the Trump team was taking their cue from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. Trump’s team is proposing very significant cuts or full elimination of organizations and programs that have been a mainstay of recent American government and culture. Ostensibly, this is being done to cut down on government spending, although some of these decisions seem like they may end up financially benefiting members of the Trump team as private individuals, and others won’t have much impact on government spending at all but will seriously impact the actual function of government. Right now these cuts are only proposed, but of course soon the administration will have the power to execute them. Here we’ll try to document these cuts, program eliminations and profiteering scams to the extent we’re able, and update as these stories continue to develop.
For the sake of clarity, an asterisk* denotes proposed cuts; a lack of asterisk indicates that the cut has been put into place.
Federal Funding for Sanctuary Cities
Trump followed through on his promise to cut federal funding to cities that defy his order and remain “sanctuary cities,” refusing to assist the federal government in identifying and deporting undocumented immigrants. The denial of federal funding’s only exemption is for grants to law enforcement, which means that the programs now without federal funding include “healthcare, housing, infrastructure, [and] disaster preparedness.” East Bay Express notes that in Oakland, the programs affected include Head Start, lead safety, homeless shelters, and housing for low-income seniors. San Francisco is suing in response.
EPA’s Staff and Budget*
Myron Ebell, former head of Trump’s transition team at the EPA, said that “Trump is likely to seek significant reductions to the agency’s workforce — currently about 15,000 employees nationwide.” Confusingly, EPA staffers also received an internal memo that was linked to Motherboard that seems to guardedly tell employees not to believe this news, leaving it unclear what the real plan is.
An internal memo—first leaked to Motherboard by an EPA employee and later confirmed by the agency—sent to EPA staff by a senior White House advisor today indicates that Ebell’s claims are causing unrest within the agency. The memo doesn’t mention Ebell by name or say that the agency won’t see major staff cuts, but notes that much of what’s being reported in the news is not accurate, and that “no final decisions have been made with regard to the EPA.”
A Lot of Federal Regulations
A new executive order requires that government agencies “revoke two regulations for every new rule they want to issue.” This is on top of the regulatory freeze that Trump’s team has already put in place on new regulations, which requires that any new regulations that were already in the works when Trump came into office have their effective dates postponed by 60 days. Lisa Gilbert of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch was quoted as saying, “There’s a lack of understanding of what rules do to keep our environment safe and protect our financial system.” One effect of the freeze may be that an important mortgage disclosure rule, TRID, may not be decided upon, leaving parts of the housing industry in limbo.
Significant Amount of Funding for Air Travel*
The Heritage Foundation blueprint “calls for stopping all federal grants to airports and eliminating “wasteful subsidies” to the Essential Air Service program that serves rural areas.”
CDC’s Summit on Climate Change
Abruptly canceled after the inauguration, although it has since been put back on the table personally by Al Gore.
News of a revived conference comes days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention abruptly canceled its long-planned Climate and Health Summit in the lead-up to the change in White House administrations. Benjamin called the move a “strategic retreat” given the climate skepticism of the incoming administration.
Emails sent to participants and scheduled speakers did not explain the reason behind CDC’s decision. Nor did the agency offer an explanation in response to a request for comment from The Washington Post, saying only that it was exploring the possibility of holding the event later in the year.
National Public Lands*
It’s to be given away out of the government’s possession, so it will no longer be public land or federally owned, and made salable to private entities — many areas may be profitable for mining, fracking, oil extraction and more. As it stands, national public lands are the US’s second-largest source of income after taxes.
Department of Commerce*
“…major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies.” Cuts will include the Minority Business Development Agency.
Department of Energy*
“…major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies.”
Department of Transportation*
“Significant cuts and program eliminations.”
Department of Justice*
“Significant cuts and program eliminations.” Cuts are rumored to include the Office on Violence Against Women grant program, which provides funding to support victims of sexual assault and more, and the Legal Services Corporation, a nonprofit which helps provide civic aid to low-income Americans.
Department of State*
“Significant cuts and program eliminations.”
Corporation for Public Broadcasting*
To be privatized. The CPC, combined with the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, currently comprises 0.02% of the federal budget.
National Endowment for the Arts*
Completely eliminated. The National Endowment for the Arts, combined with the CPC and the National Endowment for the Humanities, currently comprises 0.02% of the federal budget.
National Endowment for the Humanities*
Completely eliminated. The National Endowment for the Humanities, combined with the CPC and the National Endowment for the Arts, currently comprises 0.02% of the federal budget.
The Department of State will presumably be enlarged. They’re charged with administration under the Guano Islands Act, at least, so presumably best equipped to deal with Trump’s bullshit.
Not sure it’s the biggest thing (there’s so much serious stuff which will happen) but I’ve already noticed the lack of art. Compare this inauguration to Obama’s first one for example. The cuts are just more of this.
To be fair though at least he can’t use arts for propaganda purposes as much if he’s cutting them.
I’m British but I’m a poet, hence my interest in that sort of thing.
The NEA is less than .02% of the budget. One microscopic fraction of the budget. So many arts programs, museums, public venues, and creative spaces will struggle to stay afloat if this is cut. I fear for a generation of children growing up without access to the arts, which is sadly the case for a lot of kids already. Without art, what do we have left?
Music that will be forced to meet a certain standard?
I should maybe not comment until I’ve got all my thoughts in order and then comment everything I think. Anyway these are my long-winded thoughts.
In a Utopian society, art funding would come from a state that didn’t meddle with the arts themselves, simply funded them, and at a level that the programs needed. But I don’t trust Trump to do that.
It’s scary that kids might not grow up with art galleries, museums, ways and places to express themselves and to develop a love for the arts. I hope that either the funding doesn’t get cut (as it looks like it will) or that people will be able to fundraise enough to keep places afloat, especially for poorer children who’ll be unable to access the works otherwise (I can’t imagine the museums simply closing rather than going for private or charity models so I hope it’s the sort of charity one which allows everyone to access these things)
However my image of a Trump-run nightmare of a states art project might not include the sorts of things people get out of art which are good things to get. I was imagining a lot of censorship and propaganda – I want kids and others to be exposed to both the experience of being able to express themselves wholly and to have a wide-range of artists, both in terms of style and identity, which lets them know that art is for everyone and benefit from it. My image of a Trump-run arts project was a lot more propagandistic and censorship-led than that and if the alternative to that was run by arts volunteers who were more willing to bring kids what they needed then the third sector option would be better.
What I meant with saying that there’s scarier things is that there really are. I think that under Trump both America and the world are going to be a scary place. It’s a government of war-mongering, homophobic racists and he scares me almost as much as the people around him do. It’s the physical stuff that might happen to people (including death) that’s the scariest thing about this new government, in my eyes. Not to say that cutting the arts is a good thing, it really isn’t. But it’s not the scariest thing he can do.
I think individual art will (ironically) flourish under Trump. Simply because, unless he does get into the censorship side of things, artistic expression tends to do so under bad times. This is true both with the more obvious protest art and also the more subtle things. Art is about pushing against something.
I own my privilege in that I’ve never needed these sorts of programs, to me a trip to an art gallery is just a nice thing to have. I realise that some people who have less money or otherwise less access to the arts will be disadvantaged in ways which go beyond this simple lack of a nice day out or having to pay for a hobby which would otherwise be free.
Sorry if my thoughts are too long-winded. I’m aspie and have social anxiety and part of that is that I find it hard to express myself in a way which is both short and acually says what I mean so the other person ‘gets it’, in prose form especially.
Sorry this is so long winded, I find it really hard to be brief. I shouldn’t have posted without being more clear though.
I agree that the ideal world would have a government which funded the arts at a level which was adequate. I then think they should leave it to museum curators, artists, teachers etc to make the actual decisions of when and how to teach it, make it and show it.
However, my nightmarish vision for what it might look like under Trump wasn’t like that. I was imagining either him running it as a state-run propaganda department (in which Trump’s particular view of the world was funnelled out to the public in the form of art which might actually be technically good and therefore persuasive to apolitical types) or cutting it (which is what he is doing).
The lack of funding for museums, art galleries and other public spaces is scary. I really hope that either the third sector step in and manage to run these things through properly trained volunteers (or simply interested people with the right ‘sensibilities’ for the arts, such as open-mindedness and creativity) or that Trump changes his mind with this and it goes into my ideal. I can’t imagine that ideal under Trump, though.
Ironically I think that individual art will flourish under Trump. That doesn’t make it good that he’s president, obviously, but it’s at the worst times that artists are often at their most inspired – both in the creation of things which are obvious protest art and in the creation of other things which, looking back, don’t seem to be as direct. A lot of my favourite art was produced in the 80s, for example. As long as the censorship doesn’t take hold.
There are a lot scarier things which might happen under Trump, though. He’s a racist, misogynist who seems to be all up for a war. He’s surrounded by more of the same and some very homophobic types. Lives are on the line.
I realise that I’m commenting from a position of privilege and I would probably not comment like this if I were poorer or otherwise unable to access art except that funded by the government. What to me probably looks just like a day out at a museum I managed to get into for free probably looks like a lot more to someone who isn’t actually able to pay and who is in actual need of the experience.
Sorry if I’m being long-winded or not making sense. I’m aspie and have social anxiety and it’s my first online comments in four years because I’m scared of saying something wrong. I need to be long-winded if I want to make sense to the other person in a prose format.
Sorry I seem to have actually posted my comments twice and they say basically the same thing. Not used to site yet!
It’s okay! What you said makes sense.
I work for a major non profit (theatre) arts organization that – and I imagine this is the case for many of similar status – gets the majority of its funding from memberships, box office sales, and private donors/philanthropists. We get only a tiny tiny fraction of our income from the NEA already, which is sad but it means thankfully we are protected from this kind of circumstance. Arts organizations will be depending even more on rich folks who dig the arts. Our philanthropists need to step it up. Unfortunately this also means that $$$ in the organizations needs to be funneled into a robust development department to recruit said donors and less $$$ goes to the art itself and those creating it.
No National Endowment for the Arts will make America great again
Just to make you feel even better, the Trump administration has also removed all references to Climate Change on Whitehouse.gov, and also this:
In case it didn’t come out, here’s the link. “It’s only been 25 min and the Dept. of Labor’s report on Advancing LGBT Workplace Rights has been taken down.”
The resource page regarding for persons with disabilities is also gone!
I fully expected to see “elimination of the non-white non-heterosexual human race” somewhere in this. Oh well, baby steps.
VAWA…what else do you expect from an admitted sexual predator?
This one is bloody terrifying. So is the fact an admitted rapist is (even allowed to be) president :(
We need a lot of people objecting to land giveaways. Write your representatives, Senators, and Trump.
Oh, and outdoor recreation at National Parks is a classic Trump voter, middle income voter, rural voter, white voter vacation.
(I do expect that the existing NPS outreach attempts to attract urban and suburban POC to the parks will be cut).
The National parks thing is one of the things I’m honestly more worried about. Literally crying thinking about oil derricks in Yellowstone or Yosemite.
Yeah that’s one of the things that’s hitting me hardest too. Many of these things can be salvaged or reinstated with a regime change. There is no (easy) way to get that land back after it’s sold, or undo much of damage done by mining, fracking, or oil drilling.
Excellent resource; thank you.
When operating within an economy using a non convertible fiat money there is little to no financial constraint on federal spending. taxes don’t finance spending. The spending choices represent pure political will and nothing more.
History has seen this all before. Each time someone like him and his rise, we and ours suffer and then we WIN.
Maybe this is the human condition……..the price of freedom, etc.
Because apparently I’m a masochist, I actually read the Heritage Foundation proposed budget a few weeks back, and I have to say, the worldview behind is both bizarrely selfish, yet also weirdly Panglossian and naive. Their basic outlook seems to be “Well, if people *really* wanted [social service], someone would’ve already been providing it via the free market.” Unless it’s abortion or LGBT equality, because God. And, also, climate change isn’t real, because we said it isn’t.
(The last bit *really* gets me. How come these people get to nakedly ignore physical reality, and yet if I were to try do that, I’d get laughed out of the room? I mean, if I were to say, well, I really hate getting sick, so I’m just going to decide that cold viruses don’t really exist, people would think I was a fool)