Donald Trump campaigned as an unconventional Republican — one who championed universal health care, massive infrastructure spending, the protection of entitlements, the rejection of new trade deals, and, on occasion, sexual assault, religious discrimination, deliberate war crimes, the National Enquirer’s reputation for investigative reporting, etc, etc…
Those first few heresies earned Trump the antipathy of the far-right think tank the Heritage Foundation, which initially branded the GOP front-runner as a big-government liberal in conservative’s clothing.
But then Trump won the Republican nomination, and picked Mike Pence as his running mate. And the GOP nominee started talking a bit more about the evils of financial regulation and the estate tax. And former Heritage Foundation staffers started migrating onto Trump’s team.
After the mogul won it all on November 8, Heritage played a leading role in picking the new administration’s personnel. And now, it seems to be picking which government programs and agencies the new administration will abolish.
In recent days, two members of the Trump transition team — Russ Vought and John Gray — have met with career staff at the White House to outline their plan for bleeding $10.5 trillion out of the federal government, the Hill reported Thursday. That plan is tightly modeled on a blueprint drafted by Heritage last year.
The proposed cuts are so draconian and far-reaching, they encompass nearly every government function that liberals care about.
At the Department of Justice, the plan would eliminate programs that aim to prevent violence against women, encourage community-oriented policing, and provide legal aid to the indigent. It would also drastically reduce funding the DOJ’s Civil Rights and Environment and Natural Resources divisions.
At the Energy Department, the plan would eliminate the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Office of Fossil Energy, which develops technologies to reduce carbon emissions.
Two of the top State Department programs focused on climate-change prevention are marked for elimination.
The Minority Business Development Agency, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities are all headed for the scrap heap. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized.
Per the Hill, it’s unclear whether the plan cuts Medicare or Social Security — measures that would violate a campaign promise to maintain entitlement spending that Trump has reiterated in recent days. However, without significant cuts to those programs, and to Medicaid, it’s difficult to see how Trump could cut $10.5 trillion over 10 years out of the federal budget, which is the goal of his transition team’s budget blueprint, according to the Hill.
It’s also unclear whether Vought and Gray’s budget blueprint has the unequivocal support of the president-elect himself, who has devoted little rhetorical energy to touting plans for radically downsizing the civil service.
Even if Trump approves of the cuts, he may not be able to get them through Congress. When a similarly draconian budget came up for a vote in the GOP-controlled House in 2015, it was rejected by a vote of 132 to 294.
Among those who voted in favor was Trump’s nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney.