The proposed Trump budget is not new news anymore, it’s been out for about a week now. There’s been plenty of debate — backlash, support, a satire column that was accidentally retweeted by White House Officials. Now, it comes as no surprise that we’re not exactly fans of this budget, but we’re going to address a common criticism that those who do support the budget cuts often bring up: How is the government going to get all this money to support all these programs that were cut?
And that’s a very good question.
Obviously, we are not expert political analysts or seasoned economists, but we can toss a few ideas around. We know the basics of budgeting.
As millennials, we’re going to turn to the Internet and meme culture for advice (note: this is a joke, readers, please don’t barrage us with letters about how memes should not be reputable sources). There’s a meme that floats around sometimes, which lists portions of the user’s budget: rent, data, utilities, etc. In the original version, in addition to all those essentials is “Candles,” where $3,600 is allocated, in comparison to the more standard payments for the usual items. The user says something along the lines of “someone please help me budget; my family is dying.” Someone replies with “Spend less on candles.” The original poster says “no.”
Budgeting is tricky, we know this. But if you have one big, inessential glaring cost that you refuse to budge on, then budgeting goes from tricky to downright impossible. And it makes you a heck of a lot harder to sympathize with if you’re insistent on that one thing.
To the Trump administration, that thing is the wall. Yes, the infamous border wall, which will apparently keep all the big, scary, bad people out of our country and solve all of our problems. Never mind that historically proven, border walls just don’t work. Anthropologist Ruben Andersson wrote a book about migrations and borders throughout European history and stated that walls usually end up functioning as tools by domestic governments to make it “look like they’re doing something” — and, most importantly, that if people want to get in, they will find a way.
We understand that was a big campaign promise, albeit one of the more grandiose ones. We just don’t know why it’s still being clung to.
The wall, in total, will cost between $12 billion and $15 billion. In the proposed budget, $2 billion has been allocated as a down payment. That is a lot of money that could be allocated to more direct needs — for instance, perhaps, funding programs such as ones dedicated to after- and before- school programs and providing underprivileged kids with free lunches. Or perhaps funding public broadcasting. Or the part of our government dedicated to protecting the environment.
We get it; America has a debt problem that needs to be fixed. But — and we turn back to the meme in times of trouble in order to lighten the mood — if your family is dying, then don’t spend thousands (or in this case, billions) of dollars on candles. If you’re going to justify getting rid of programs intended to feed hungry children, you can’t go around tossing money at some campaign promise that historically won’t even work.
So to answer that question we posed at the beginning — well, we don’t know, but maybe if our government wasn’t allocating $15 billion to a wall, we’d have a better idea.