In World News: Trump's budget cuts

“To keep Americans safe, we have made tough choices that have been put off for far too long. But we have also made necessary investments that are long overdue,” reads the introductory letter of President Trump’s “Budget Blueprint,” which went public on March 16. The document proposes a significant increase in defense spending as well as more funding for border security, deportation of illegal immigrants living within the U.S. and Trump’s often-repeated campaign promise: the wall on the southern border with Mexico.
Programs slated to be significantly cut or eliminated entirely include social services for seniors and people living in poverty such as Meals on Wheels and housing subsidies, cultural funds such as the National Endowment for the Arts and foreign aid. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will also experience a significant loss of funding if the budget plan is enacted in its current state.
However, the “Blueprint” the Trump administration released is far from a finished budget plan. In order for any of his proposals to be implemented, they must first be argued over in Congress and passed by both houses. This process could take months, and the budget will likely undergo significant changes before it can be agreed upon and then implemented. Even so, the proposal has already received significant backlash, including from Evangelical organizations like World Relief who denounce the elimination of foreign aid, according to Christianity Today.
However, some of the most aggressive and widespread dissent for the budget proposal has come from those who are concerned about the proposed elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts. According to the Los Angeles Times, the endowment currently has a budget of $148 million. Put into perspective, the current defense budget is more than 3,600 times greater than that of the NEA. This has raised questions as to why a group with such a small budget, that also does valuable work for promoting the arts in communities across the country, would need to be cut.
Junior Katie Hiltibran, a community art major, expressed concerns about the elimination of the NEA and stressed the importance of the arts specifically within a community context. She said, “The amount of funding given to the National Endowment for the Arts is pretty small compared to other projects funded by Congress, but those small grants that are passed out to different arts organizations across the nation enrich our culture and living.” This can even be seen locally, through the projects that the NEA funds around Illinois including the Poetry Out Loud initiative, which supports poetry memorization and engagement in the art of the written word. Hiltibran added, “If Trump takes away funding from the arts, there will be areas of the arts that will suffer, especially community-focused organizations.”
Conservatives have argued for decades that the budget for the endowment is poorly managed, which could certainly warrant a closer look at the amount of money granted to it.
Junior Cameron Van Beek pointed to an article by the Daily Wire to explain his views, sharing a quote that read, “the NEA and NEH, like most-government agencies, are guilty of spending money on ridiculous initiatives, such as $47,000 on teaching children to laugh and $10,000 for a Zombie in Love children’s musical.” Van Beek went on to say that “there is still $13.1 billion in private funding for cultural programs, which the government only contributed $292 million for.” For many conservatives, it is a question of the role of the government. As Van Beek added, “They’ll still continue through private funding, even without the government contribution.”
While the Republican Party and the new president argue that the time has come for a closer look at the NEA budget, especially following so closely after the economic turmoil the 2008 housing crisis wrought on the country, liberal voices, including community artists like Hiltibran, counter that the complete elimination of federal funding for the NEA would mean the loss of valuable cultural and community resources.

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