On March 16th, President Donald Trump revealed “America First,” the blueprint of his first official budget. This name certainly has validation, as the budget proposal focuses solely on placing American homeland protection first. While the funding of the departments of veteran affairs, homeland security, and national defense spiked 10%, the federal government’s portion of “discretionary” spending plummeted (Cowan). The $54 Billion in cuts target global aid agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the department of Health and Human Services (Kopan, 2017).
The figures regarding the cuts in Global Aid, Environmental Protection Agency and the department of Health and Human Services are alarming to the scientific community. Trump’s budget proposes a 16.2% budget cut in the Department of Health and Human Services, and a 31.4% cut in the Environmental Protection Agency’s finances (Kopan, 2017). On a global scope, the budget proposition decreases the funding US Agency for International Development (USAID) by 28% (Matthews, 2017).
The budget proposal significantly diminishes or completely eliminates the finances of specific research programs that have extensive global influences. One of the major causes for scientific concern is the hit the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will take if this plan is adopted for the 2017 fiscal year. Trump plans to slash NIH funding by 18% and to reorganize the Institute’s focus (Kaiser, 2017). The budget states that Trump’s plan “reduces administrative costs and rebalances Federal contributions to research funding,” meaning that the “indirect costs” of the NIH, including those negotiated with Universities, will be decreased. The plan also reorganizes the 27 Institutes of the NIH, and eliminates the Fogarty International Center, which is focused on improving global health (Reardon, 2017).
On top of the affects this budget will have on the NIH, the blueprint outlines that $403 million will be cut from “Health professions and nursing training programs” (Rocheleau et. Al, 2017). The budget is frighteningly lacking in its explanations of exactly what health profession training programs will be eliminated, how the NIH’s indirect costs will be reduced, and how the NIH will be reorganized.
While the budget decreases the finances of the Department of Health and Human Services, it does outline the foundation of fund within the Department to respond to public health concerns. While this fund seems beneficial and necessary in the aftermath of outbreaks such as the Zika and Ebola viruses, the implementation of this fund following cuts in biomedical research financing eliminates its effectiveness. According to Keith Martin, the executive director of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health in D.C., “It’s cheaper to prevent a public health crisis than to treat one after the fact” (Reardon, 2017). The Trump administration seems to want to tackle global public health crises by protecting the United States in the aftermath of outbreaks, rather than funding research that may prevent outbreaks on a global scale.
The slashing of EPA funding will also hit major climate-change efforts that influence global health. Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, states that “You can’t drain the swamp and leave all the people in it. So, I guess the first place that comes to mind will be the Environmental Protection Agency” (Pestano, 2017). In addition to completely eliminating Chesapeake Bay and Great Lake restoration projects, Environmental legal consultation, and the Energy Star Energy efficiency program, the cuts target worldwide research and funding. The plans decrease emission reduction research, and reduce United States funding towards UN climate change efforts (Rappeport, 2017).
The specificities of Trump’s fiscal plan will only be revealed in May; for now, the ideas are rudimentary. The budget also faces fierce opposition from members of the Republican Party and the congressional majority, and the plan seems to seek complete undoing of the Obama administration’s environmental action. On top of that, diminishing American research may lag the United States’ innovative leverage in the global economy. This budget should be voted on carefully and deliberated extensively, as it has the potential to degrade major research and environmental agencies worldwide.
Cowan, Richard. (17, March 2017). Trump’s budget cuts to domestic, aid programs draw Republican scorn. Retrieved from: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-budget-idUSKBN16M1DO
(17, March 2017). Trump budget: UN sounds alarm over foreign aid cuts. Al Jazeera News. Retrieved from: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/trump-budget-cuts-foreign-aid-170316233601387.html
Douthat, Ross. (18, March 2017). Make America Singapore. The New York Times. Retrieved from: https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/03/18/opinion/sunday/make-america-singapore.html?smid=fb-nytopinion&smtyp=cur&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fm.facebook.com
Matthews, Dylan. (16, March 2017). Donald Trump’s first budget outline, explained. The Vox. Retrieved from: http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/3/16/14912638/trump-budget-2018-explained-cuts-growth
Kaiser, Jocelyn. (17, March 2017).Trump’s NIH budget may include reducing overhead payments to universities. Sciencemag. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/03/trump-s-nih-budget-may-include-reducing-overhead-payments-universities
Kopan, Tai. (16, March 2017). Here’s what Trump’s budget proposes to cut. CNN. Retrieved from: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/16/politics/trump-budget-cuts/
Pestano, Andrew. (16, March 2017). Trump delivers budget boosting military, cutting EPA, State Dept. UPI. Retrieved From:
Rocheleau, Matt. (16, March 2017). Here’s a list of the agencies and programs Trump’s budget would defund entirely. The Boston Globe. Retrieved from:https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/03/16/here-list-agencies-and-programs-trump-budget-would-defund-entirely/FU6eHGUMCBIketz8uPWDJJ/story.html
Rapeport, Alan, Thrush, Glenn. (16, March 2017).Pentagon Grows, While E.P.A. and State Dept. Shrink in Trump’s Budget. The New York Times. Retrieved from :