Bill Knight column for Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, 6-5, 6 or 7
But my inarticulate comment simply meant that budgets are PLANS. What’s important is SPENDING.
In legislative terms: Appropriations are key; budgets are BS.
While Illinois grapples with its inability to pass a budget OR appropriations, Congress received a budget from the Oval Office Occupant (“OOO”) that lays out a ruthless $4.1 trillion plan. But it’s BS until appropriations are authorized on Capitol Hill.
Still, as plans go, it’s cruel and goofy. For one thing, the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, although they’re both picking your pockets (and troubling your heart). It presumes $2 trillion more in revenue in 10 years, which most economists say is unreasonable, and then uses the same $2 trillion to balance the budget AND pay for proposed tax cuts. The double-counting is an embarrassing error in arithmetic.
The plan – renamed from “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” to “The New Foundation for America’s Greatness” (“Huh,” America muttered.) – features $3.6 trillion in cuts to domestic agencies, highway funding, crop insurance and medical research, etc., yet increases military spending by billions and provides a $1.6 billion down payment for a border wall. As I wrote in April, the plan also would severely hurt rural areas by zeroing out key Agriculture programs such as Rural Water and Waste Disposal, Rural Utilities Service, Single-Family Housing, and Rural Business and Cooperative Service.
Further, cutting insurance for children and the poor, Meals on Wheels and Social Security disability, school lunches and food stamps, the proposed 2018 budget is criticized by Democrats and a few Republicans.
“In the America of President Trump's budget, children, working families, seniors and people with disabilities will be ‘fined,’ while the wealthiest Americans will get a ‘bonus.’,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois. “What's so ‘great’ about that America?”
Unsurprisingly, the AFL-CIO blasted the plan’s cutting school funding, workplace safety research and pay cuts for government employees.
Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina commented about the growth prediction, “Three percent, I'm not seeing how you get there mathematically. I think realism in the way we forecast numbers is part and parcel to a constructive budget process.”
Demonizing the needy is heartless; doing so while cutting taxes for the wealthy is shameful. Maybe more significantly, the budget plan reveals its priorities if lawmakers use it as an appropriations roadmap, a sort of GPS for the Highway to Hell.
“Our faith tells us that the moral test of a society is how it treats the poor,” writes evangelical Christian Jim Wallis. “Jesus proclaimed in his first sermon that ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.’ That good news to the poor is at the core of Jesus’ message.The budget released by the Trump administration is anything but ‘good news’ for the poor.”
Indeed, in Judaism’s Torah, Deuteronomy says, “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.”
The New Testament’s Gospels has Matthew reporting Jesus commenting, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me … As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
In the Quran, the Prophet Muhammad urged Muslims to treat the poor kindly and to help them with alms, Zakat (a religious tax), and other ways. He said, “He is not a perfect Muslim who eats his fill and lets his neighbor go hungry.”
Besides its uselessness without appropriations, its math mistake, its fanciful forecasts and its lack of details, objections to its priorities might came from people of faith.
Stephen Colbert is a comic but he’s also a devout Catholic, and he commented, “If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it.”
[PICTURED: screen grab from Mediaite.com.]