Pot Matters: Trump Budget Pushes Legalization-
By Jon Gettman March 20, 2017
The recent budget proposal by the Trump administration will increase the pace of marijuana’s legalization in the United States. By proposing drastic cuts in federal programs, the Trump budget—whether enacted, ignored or modified by Congress—highlights the need for state governments throughout the nation to develop and seek new sources of revenue.
Trump’s budget proposals have been described as “Dead on Arrival” by Congress, which actually determines the budget for the United States government.
For example, Lindsay Graham and other prominent Republican Senators reject Trump’s call to slash foreign aid. Senate Democrats, whose votes are needed to pass any appropriation bill to fund the budget, will block spending increases and reductions required to enact the [resident’s budget plan. Nonetheless, the budget reveals a lot about Trump’s priorities, and overall, these highlight determined opposition to federal spending on social programs throughout the nation.
The Trump budget plan is not about deficit reduction; it’s about shifting funds from social programs to defense and homeland security. The federal budget is composed of mandatory spending on programs such as Medicare, Social Security and interest on the debt, as well as discretionary spending on government operations and programs.
Mandatory spending accounts for 73 percent of federal spending and 27 percent of discretionary spending. The Trump budget seeks to increase spending by the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Veterans Affairs and to pay for it by cutting just about everything else (including of two percent in the budgets of the Labor and Agriculture Departments, a 29 percent cut in the State Department’s budget and a 31 percent reduction in the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency).
The Justice Department budget would be cut by four percent, mostly from reducing funds for building federal prisons. The budget proposal would also, however, increase funding to go after criminal and drug trafficking organizations and anti-immigration efforts.
The Trump budget would cut nutrition assistance to women, infants and children; economic development grants to struggling communities; funds for training teachers for low-income students; and funding for training health professionals. It would eliminate community development block grant funding and programs that support affordable housing. The Trump budget would eliminate a program to help low-income seniors find work and close Job Corp centers that train disadvantaged youths.
The budget could cut funding for transportation programs and eliminate grants to provide financial services for economically distressed neighborhoods. The Trump budget would eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which provides support for the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio).
Analysis by the San Francisco Chronicle observes that the Trump budget “proposes cutting programs designed to help lower income and rural Americans. Among those proposed for trims are the block grant that supports the Meals on Wheels program for seniors; money that helps provide healthy food to poor women who use the Women, Infants and Children program; and subsidies for home heating oil.”
Clearly, programs that benefit the states and their citizens will be cut to fund Trump’s plans to increase the Defense Budget by $52 billion and funding for Homeland Security and Veterans by $7 billion.
Then, there’s that wall that Trump wants to build, which could cost as much as $50 billion; the $1 trillion the president wants to spend on roads, bridges and infrastructure projects; and as also reported by Politico, impending tax cuts.
No one seems to know how these last few items are going to be paid for, and Trump has repeatedly promised voters he will not cut entitlements (the mandatory spending described above).
The message for the states, and particularly for state leaders and legislators, is that as the Trump administration seeks to enact their policy priorities, there will be less and less federal spending to address pressing social problems that affect the citizens of their states, specifically the voters who elected them.
The Trump administration has dedicated itself to increasing fiscal pressure on the states. Whether deliberate or not, and regardless of how successful they are in enacting their budget proposals, the Trump agenda will force state governments to seek out new sources of revenue.
The result of Trump’s priorities will be that tax revenue from legalized marijuana is going to look better and better to state governments. Forcing states to look at this issue in a new light, the Trump budget pushes marijuana legalization in a most persuasive manner.