Shortchanging education, training, and R&D is no way to make America great again

Yesterday, the Trump administration released its budget blueprint, which, while it’s unlikely to be passed in its current form by Congress, sets out the administration’s priorities for the years ahead. Simply put, the Trump budget transfers funds from programs that keep people fed and sheltered, protect them from disease and environmental threats, or educate them—and gives those funds to defense contractors to build more weapons, planes, and ships. But it also seems to have the purpose of making America more ignorant, less informed about the challenges and problems that face us, and less able to understand and develop solutions to those challenges and problems. It could be called a “lobotomy budget” because it effectively removes big pieces of the government’s brain.

Here are some examples of how the budget leaves students less educated and less prepared for the 21st century workforce:

  • The budget eliminates the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, a need-based grant program that helps 1.6 million undergraduate students pay for college.
  • The budget cuts $1.2 billion for the 21st Century Community Learning Center before and after school programs:

Here are examples of how the budget shortchanges research and development that America needs to stay at the cutting edge of health, energy, and environmental science:

  • It contains huge cuts in the National Institutes of Health budget ($5.8 billion). NIH does cutting edge research into medicines and drugs, disease prevention and cures, and improved surgical techniques.
  • It cuts more than $1 billion in Energy Department R&D.
  • It eliminates $250 million in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research and education grants.
  • It kills four NASA earth science missions.
  • It cuts the EPA’s R&D budget by $233 million, or almost in half.

The budget would also make sure we don’t learn from disasters like refinery, grain mill, and factory explosions by eliminating the Chemical Safety Board, which investigates explosions and recommends how to avoid repeating them. It would keep small manufacturers from learning how to improve quality and efficiency and compete better internationally by killing the $124 million Manufacturing Extension Program. And it would help make sure that we don’t train new health professionals like nurses (leaving us to import guestworkers from abroad to fill shortages) by cutting $403 million in training.

America’s future greatness depends on the research and development we do today. It depends on the higher education we provide to our young people and the training we provide to young professionals. The Trump budget shortchanges these investments in the future and others that could make the nation more productive and innovative.