Monday, March 20, 2017

Will private sources take up the slack on likely Trump-aka-GOP budget cuts for FY 2018?

If Congress slashes the civilian budgets the way Donald Trump wants, what will be the effect on ordinary Americans?

Well, very mixed.  On the arts, there is plenty of reason to believe that private sources can do a lot more to support PBS, the Smithsonian, and the like.  There are ways to set up “socially responsible investing”.  The non-profit world would grow, much of it around DC, and help take up some of the loss of federal jobs. The Washington Post has expressed a lot of concern over possible federal layoffs on the regional economy. 

Rick Sincere, connected to the Libertarian Party of Virginia and to GLIL (Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty) in the past, has written some articles on Virginia and the arts.  He argues that states subsidies for the arts help rich people out of state rather than poor Virginians (typical blog post – he has several; his posts look like mine). 

Tod Van Der Werff of Vox makes somewhat similar arguments and notes that rural areas will lose out – primarily because supporting public services in rural areas is generally less cost effective for the public as a whole – this goes for airlines service in smaller cities, too. All of that feeds the self-sufficiency, self-defense (NRA) culture of the “doomsday prepper” movement that I see on Facebook (ironically).

I stop and ponder this a moment.  Most of the time when I travel on my own, I’m staying in smaller towns at night (unless I go to NYC).

What about so many of the other cuts?  We hear a lot about the loss of funding to things like Meals on Wheels.  Some states will do more than others to pick up the slack.  But it is this delivery of personalized service to people that the private sector is best at.  That brings me back to another general comment – organizations that recruit many volunteers need to become much more transparent about what they will be asking for.  Meal delivery, for example, can mean driving in low-income neighborhoods and a bigger risk of exposure to crime. 

Yet, traditional conservatism still has a point:  part of the solution to the inequality problem is expecting more openness and less insularity from those who are better off (me).  

Here is the CBO's analysis of the 2017 budget. 

Update: March 21, 2017 

Peter Jamison has an article on how Trump's budget affects the District of Columbia, here.  I wonder if it could affect organizations like Whitman Walker and DC Center Global.  

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