President Donald Trump’s budget proposal exposes his administration’s real priorities: It slashes spending on necessities that millions of people depend on for transportation, water supply and electricity. Instead of fixing railroad tracks, bridges, electric grids, water pipes and other essential structures and networks, he reduces governmental departments and agencies that address these vital services.
Trump’s earlier proclamation that “crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways ‘gleaming across our beautiful land’” has evaporated. His “request” to Congress to “approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment” in the U.S.’s infrastructure has floated away. (whitehouse.gov, Feb. 28)
The proposed budget cuts $2.4 billion from the Department of Transportation alone and more from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency and other essential programs.
Whose budget grew? The Pentagon’s, of course. With generals filling White House posts, it’s no surprise that the 2018 budget adds a whopping $54 billion increase over and above this year’s $30 billion hike.
War contractors like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman that sell F-35 and F/A 18 fighter jets, missiles, Apache and Blackhawk helicopters and drones stand ready to feast on a $13.5 billion piece of the exorbitant military budget. (cnn.com, March 16)
Each of the 59 Tomahawk missiles the U.S. launched at Syria on April 6 will cost $1.5 million to replace. That’s $88 million in total! Raytheon Co., the missile’s maker, saw its stock price soar.
Fund people’s needs, not war!
So, while the Pentagon and arms manufacturers are lauding Trump’s budgetary priorities, workers are paying the price for the deteriorating infrastructure. Recent accidents at New York’s Penn Station exemplify the national crisis.
Some 600,000 workers who daily travel on 1,300 Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and Long Island Railroad trains found their commutes snarled for a week by the second derailment at Penn Station within 10 days. Officials said the April 3 derailment was caused by the failure of a few wooden railroad ties — which each cost less than $100! — and left eight tracks unusable.
Rail workers labored 24 hours a day to fix the mess, battling overhead wires and a 1910-era infrastructure.
If the Gateway Project — putting a second rail tunnel under the Hudson River to New York City — had been in place, the Penn Station derailment could have been easily managed. The White House’s budget puts Gateway out of the gate.
Besides New York’s programs, a light rail plan in Maryland, a subway project in Los Angeles and a bus project in Kansas City are all slated to be cut.
Despite denials by Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, a recent Treasury Department report admits that “a lack of public funding is … the most common factor hindering completion of transportation and water infrastructure projects.” (cnbc.com, April 6)
However, billionaire Trump could care less that tens of millions of people suffer from the infrastructure crisis. He represents the interests of Wall Street bankers and investors. They consider infrastructure a “risky investment,” as it generates nothing like the superprofits from weapons manufacturing, corporate mergers and acquisitions, stock and currency manipulations and home foreclosures.
Only the mass struggle can ensure that the wealth generated by the workers is used to better people’s lives instead of enriching corporate parasites.