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“Trumptastrophe”: “A Sledgehammer to What Remains of the American Dream.”

Donald Trump
News & Analysis

Welcome to our weekly “Trumptastrophe” series that serves to remind us of the destructive policies, decisions, and actions we encountered during the Trump presidency and the threats that he and others in the MAGA movement still pose – and to keep those moments clear in our memory as we fight to defeat Republican extremists during the upcoming elections.

This week’s Trumptastrophe brings into focus the disastrous ways MAGA Republicans plan to end investment in important federal programs (like public health, education, and the environment) while padding the bottom line of corporations and the wealthy by providing deep and drastic tax cuts:

In mid-March 2017, Trump submitted his first budget to Congress, building on an outline released a month earlier. The 2018 budget proposal called for massive cuts to social safety net programs, including food stamps, disability benefits, and student loans. Nobel prize-winning economic Joseph Stiglitz summarized the budget this way: “Trump’s budget takes a sledgehammer to what remains of the American Dream.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders criticized the budget’s call to repeal the Affordable Care Act, saying “this is a budget that provides massive tax breaks for billionaires and corporate CEOs, and massive cuts to programs that tens of millions of struggling Americans depend upon.” But it was not only progressive Democrats who were appalled by Trump’s budget proposal. Reuters reported it was even “too savage” for some congressional Republicans.

Foreshadowing the Trump administration’s lack of preparedness to deal with the COVID pandemic three years later, Trump’s budget called for about a 20 percent cut to the National Institutes of Health and cutting the number of officers in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps by nearly 40 percent. The budget “has roiled the medical and science community with a call for massive cuts in spending on scientific research, medical research, disease prevention programs and health insurance for children of the working poor,” the Washington Post reported.

The proposed budget also took a sledgehammer to the Environmental Protection Agency, eliminating more than 50 EPA programs, including cleanup of the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay. Experts said it would bring the EPA’s pollution enforcement to a halt. The budget called for about a one-third cut in the State Department’s budget, defunding United Nations programs and eliminating the USAID Global Climate Change Initiative.

Betsy DeVos, Trump’s anti-public-education Secretary of Education, absurdly described the 13 percent cut to her agency’s budget, and plans to divert more funding to private and religious schools, as a “historic investment in America’s students.”

Trump’s budget signaled what was important to his administration—and who was not. Things did not get better later in the year when a more detailed budget was provided. Experts at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities concluded, “The details now reflected in the budget would effectively shift an extraordinary amount of income from struggling families to the highest-income families — from the poor to the rich — amounting to ‘reverse Robin Hood’ policies of a magnitude that no modern President’s budget has ever proposed.”

That first budget is more evidence that Trump and those around him share the brutal vision contained in Project 2025, the right-wing movement’s plan to “take the reins of government.” In the words of the Heritage Foundation’s Paul Dans, who is leading Project 2025, they are “systematically preparing to march into office and bring a new army: aligned, trained, and essentially weaponized conservatives ready to do battle against the deep state.”

  • Project 2025 calls for shutting down the Department of Education, eliminating Head Start and phasing out Title I funding for schools in low-income communities. At the 2024 Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump advisor Stephen Miller called for conservatives to use government power more aggressively against opponents, railing against district attorneys for not arresting teachers who violate new state laws restricting teaching about race, gender, and sexuality.
  • Trump’s 2018 budget was a move to begin dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency. Project 2025 calls for a radical reversal of U.S. policy designed to limit the harmful impacts of climate change, including gutting the EPA and dismantling the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Project 2025 declares that “the Biden Administration’s climate fanaticism will need a whole-of-government unwinding,” dismissing climate policy as part of “the woke agenda.”
  • Trump’s 2018 budget called for massive cuts to cultural agencies as the first step to shutting down the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Project 2025’s plans for a new administration call for abolishing the CPB and ending “tyrannical” funding of public radio and television.
  • Trump’s current team is even more aggressive than his first term in attacking the United Nations and international agencies like the World Health Organization. At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, speakers called for the U.S. to defund the U.N. and WHO.

Sen. Sanders pointed out the glaring difference between Trump’s campaign posturing and the policies he proposed in his first budget:

"When Donald Trump campaigned for president, he told the American people that he would be a different type of Republican, that he would take on the political and economic establishment, that he would stand up for working people, that he understood the pain that families all across this country were experiencing. Well, sadly, this budget exposes all of that verbiage for what it really was: just cheap and dishonest campaign rhetoric that was meant to get votes, nothing more than that."

This year, voters have the clarity provided by Trump’s actions as president and by the draconian plans being put forward by his campaign and his allies. He has told us what he wants to do to this country. Between now and November we must convince Americans not to give him the chance.

These are just some of the reasons we need YOU in this fight. So, find your favorite way to unwind after reading through this week’s recap, and then make a plan for how you will fight back this week, this month, this election cycle.