Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Trump’s Budget Would Brutally Hit Rural Towns

Durant, Oklahoma Boys and Girls Club

Working on my April column for VEER Magazine, I've been reviewing aspects of Der Trumpenführer's campaign against minorities of all types, and over all find the situation downright sickening and depressing.  In the process I remind myself that this is what Trump voters supported: marginalizing and harming others.  The one perverse consolation is that, if Trump's proposed budget cuts are adopted, many of those motivated by hate, rage over lost white privilege, religious extremism and outright racism may find themselves severely harmed by their very own Dear Leader. I will concede, wishing harm on others is not something admirable, yet when that harm is self-inflicted, I find it harder to resist the urge to say that these folks are getting what they sought to inflict on others. A piece in the Washington Post looks at the self-harm that befall one area of southern Oklahoma where Trump received 76% of the vote.  I feel sympathy for the children who may be harmed such as those pictured above.  As for the adults that voted based on ugly beliefs and emotions, I'm sorry, but I have no sympathy. None. Here are article excerpts:
At the Boys and Girls Club in this rural city in southern Oklahoma, the director is unsure how he will stay open if President Trump’s proposed budget goes through, eliminating money for several staff positions. 
Similar conversations are happening at the Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival’s after-school arts program, which relies on National Endowment for the Arts grants that Trump wants to eliminate. And at the county senior center, which already lost its state funding and could lose all or most of its federal funding, too. And at the Farm Service Center, which supports 1,200 local producers and is staffed with employees whose positions were targeted in the budget.
In this town of 16,000 — located near the Texas border in Oklahoma’s Bryan County, where Trump won 76 percent of the vote — excitement about Trump’s presidency has been dulled by confusion over an agenda that seems aimed at hurting their community more than helping it.
The president’s proposed budget would disproportionately harm the rural areas and small towns that were key to his unexpected win. Many red states like Oklahoma — where every single county went for Trump — are more reliant on the federal funds that Trump wants to cut than states that voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Trump wants to eliminate the federal Corporation for National and Community Service, which provides the county volunteer program with about $35,000 each year. This money goes to pay for supplemental insurance and mileage for volunteers who serve in the area, deliver meals to the county’s homebound and drive the elderly to medical appointments, including taking veterans to the closest VA medical center, 100 miles away in Dallas. The center also indirectly receives federal funds to pay for meals, which also could be cut.
Trump’s budget promises “robust funding for critical drinking and wastewater infrastructure,” but it also would eliminate a $498 million grant and loan program that helps rural communities that are smaller than Durant upgrade their water and wastewater systems.
Trump promised that within 100 days of taking office he would introduce legislation to “spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over ten years.” He has yet to do so. And when his aides discuss infrastructure, they talk more about toll roads, pipelines and major airports than crumbling Main Streets.
The Durant-based Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival offers a summer theater camp and after-school theater, dance and music classes to local students, many of whom come from poor families. The festival used to receive $150,000 a year in state and federal funds, which have been slashed to $26,000 a year, including NEA grants that Trump wants to eliminate.
And the Boys and Girls Club of Durant watches over about 200 children and teenagers each day after school and during the summer in a former middle school that is being renovated. 
Trump has also proposed cutting all federal funding for AmeriCorps VISTA, which provides staff during the summer, and reducing funding for the federal work-study program, which pays some of the club’s college-aged workers.
One of the senior workers, Sharon Green, said she learned about the potential cuts while watching PBS, which could also lose federal funding.
 Many will likely suffer before the Trump/Pence nightmare is over.  Some, like those in Durant, Oklahoma, will be reaping the results of their own embrace of bigotry and ignorance.  Their pain could have been perhaps avoided, but they are the ones that have unleashed hate and ugliness. 

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