What’s up with that budget, anyway?

This started as a short Facebook post intended to offer source material based on the recent news of what Trump’s budget may look like. It got a little longer than I thought.

Since hearing this week that the upcoming budget would include cutting the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities entirely, I’ve been searching for the original document with that info. Today, I heard added news that the budget would cut grants done by the Office of Violence Against Women, which is a Justice Dept office that has grants to protect women (see Newsweek, and here is a direct link to those program descriptions via the Justice Dept).
 
Here’s The Hill’s piece, which gets cited by most other articles I’ve read (Slate, Newsweek, National Review, for instance) . The Hill piece mentions the Heritage Foundation’s plan as one of the influences of this upcoming budget; this looks like the full Heritage Foundation Plan.
 
None of this is for sure, but if you want to read further, check out the Blueprint for a Balanced Budget 2.0, put out by the Republican Study Committee of the House of Representatives. This appears to be the closest government source for ideas that could be informing the upcoming budget this spring. This does NOT mention cutting the grants from the Office of Violence Against Women, but it DOES include removing the NEA and NEH (because “The federal government should not be in the business of funding the arts.” p. 96), as well as the Institute of Museum and Library Services (p. 97). The budget blueprint also calls for eliminating Title X *entirely* (p. 98), referring to Title X in this way: “Title X, or the family planning federal grant program, provides abortion providers with federal funds to terminate pregnancies and end the lives of thousands of innocent babies.”
 
This is false. Title X provides grants related to family planning. You can read about their 2017 priorities here, which CLEARLY stipulate that abortion is NOT included. Moreover, you can read that for yourself in the Title X code, which includes Section 1008, “None of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”
 
The Blueprint also proposes doing away with funding for Washington’s Metro Transit Authority and for Amtrak. It also provides an overview of the Republican’s American Healthcare Reform Act, for those that may wish to check that out, since we haven’t heard much about how they want to replace Obamacare (see p. 56).
 
My point is to offer a range of sources and original source material related to things you may be hearing in the news. I mention Title X because I find it troubling to eliminate a program that both pro-life and pro-choice advocates should endorse: a program that will help provide access to information and services that allow people to both become pregnant OR to avoid becoming pregnant.
 
Additionally, eliminating NEA and NEH on the basis that the government “should not be in the business of funding the arts” is also misleading because these programs do more than that. I was a recipient of an NEH grant for a summer program for teachers and I have seen first-hand how such programs help teachers become better and then in turn provide better education. I also served as a consultant to review proposed summer programs and have seen the amazing work being done across the nation to bring professional development opportunities to educators.
This is both about “the arts,” and not about them. It’s about the humanities, which are vital to us as a society. I deem them VASTLY important and believe that a smart government SHOULD support arts as well as sciences. (Moreover, the budget for NEA and NEH are terribly small in relation to the larger budget picture).
 
Finally, the news of proposed cuts affecting grants to eliminate violence against women troubled me deeply the day after the Women’s March. This news, more than any other, prompted me to dig deeper to learn more. This news is still very unconfirmed. The only source I can see for that proposed area of cuts is in the Heritage Foundation’s Budget Book linked above (and below). I will be watching this closely.
I suspect I’ll be doing a lot more of this kind of research and writing in the weeks ahead; if you have a topic you’re interested in exploring further, please feel free to comment or find me on Twitter @DoctorTonks to suggest things you’d like to see more background or context on.
 
Full list of sources mentioned in and consulted for this post:
 
DOJ, Office of Violence Against Women, “Grant Programs to End Violence Against Women,” https://www.justice.gov/ovw/page/file/914131/download
 
 
HHS, “Title X Population Research and Voluntary Family Planning Programs,” https://www.hhs.gov/opa/sites/default/files/title-x-statute-attachment-a.pdf
 
Heritage Foundation, “Budget Book,” http://budgetbook.heritage.org/
 
National Review, “Are the Trump Team’s Budget Plans Headed for Trouble?, http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/444067/trump-administration-budget-plans-entitlement-cuts-still-table
 
Newsweek, “Trump Team Considering Cuts to Federal Violence Against Women Program: Report” http://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-violence-against-women-federal-funding-budget-cuts-544710
 
Republican Study Committee, “Blueprint for a Balanced Budget 2.0,” http://rsc.walker.house.gov/files/uploads/RSC_2017_Blueprint_for_a_Balanced_Budget_2.0.pdf
 
Slate, “Trump’s Planned Elimination of Violence Against Women Grants Is Pure Cruelty” http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2017/01/19/trump_s_planned_elimination_of_violence_against_women_grants_is_pure_cruelty.html
 
Snopes, “Trump Reportedly Plans to Eliminate National Endowments for the Arts, Humanities” http://www.snopes.com/2017/01/19/trump-plan-nea-neh/
 
 
 
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