Las Vegas Sun

May 28, 2017

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Sun Editorial:

In the face of cuts for the needy, Trump’s $3M trips are appalling

On March 16, President Donald Trump issued a budget in which his administration drastically cut funding for social services, including the Meals on Wheels program.

The next day, he dined on pan-seared dover sole with Champagne sauce, New York Strip steak and Thumbelina carrots at his Mar-a-Lago resort during a trip that cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $3 million in security and travel expenses. It was his fifth trip to the resort since his inauguration. Since then, he’s taken yet another jaunt there.

Yes, the same man who has proposed cutting off meals for some of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens — homebound seniors and disabled Americans — has merrily burned through an estimated $18 million traveling to his opulent seaside palace in Florida an average of one time every two weeks during his presidency.

Meanwhile, despite trashing President Barack Obama for playing too much golf, Trump has already busted off 15 rounds during his time in office. If he would keep it up and win another term in office, he’d wind up with about 540 rounds to Obama’s 333 in his two terms.

There is no excusing this. There’s no justifying it. It’s selfish, pitiless behavior by an imperious leader who either can’t or chooses not to care that he’s acting just like the arrogant corporate CEOs who continued to zip around in private jets in the immediate aftermath of the recession.

The difference is that Trump, unlike those CEOs, is supposed to be acting in the best interests of the American people, not simply protecting a bottom line. And with his cuts to social services, he’s leaving millions of Americans with a much thinner safety net.

Granted, Trump was working during his fish-and-steak meal, which was part of a state dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and he’s taken care of other official functions while at Mar-a-Lago, as well.

But that doesn’t matter.

He’s also hit a lot of chip shots, and there’s absolutely no reason most of his work couldn’t be done at the White House.

Meanwhile, the throw-’em-overboard way he treats disadvantaged Americans in his budget makes his every-other-weekend Mar-a-Lago visits shameful.

No question, presidents occasionally need to get away from Washington. They’re people, and they’re under an amount of strain that most of us couldn’t possibly imagine bearing. It’s no more fair to blast Trump for making an occasional trip than it was for him to knock Obama for it.

But Trump’s not only overdoing it, he’s jet-setting at a time when he’s recommending budget cuts that could literally take food out of people’s mouths — and at the tune of $200,000 per hour to operate Air Force One. (Not to mention the $60,000 per day it’s costing Palm Beach County to provide local law enforcement for Trump’s visits.)

There’s nothing wrong with golf, either, or any sport or hobby that offers relief from the job.

But there are plenty of courses in Washington, so Trump would be wise to moderate his appetite to “eat cake” while proposing that older and disabled Americans get to eat nothing under his budget.

Will he scale back his travel? Probably not. He’s Donald “I’m the president and you’re not” Trump,” after all.

For the rest of us, though, there are ways to try to right this wrong.

The local Meals on Wheels program, which delivered more than 750,000 meals to seniors last year, desperately needs advocates. Many of the recipients of those meals — and the 900 seniors who are currently on the waiting list — have disabilities that make them unable to leave their homes, and many have no family or friends to speak up for them.

The good news is that Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has included money for Meals on Wheels in his proposed state budget.

But it’s not enough to take care of the people on the waiting list, much less to help the program’s facilitator, Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, contend with losses in federal funding under Trump’s budget.

That’s where the people of Southern Nevada come in.

It may be impossible to give Trump the perspective he so sorely lacks, but we can help our neighbors.

How to get involved:

• For information on volunteering for Meals on Wheels in Las Vegas or donating to the organization, visit www.catholiccharities.com/service_details/meals-on-wheels/ or call 702-385-2662.

• To advocate for protecting Meals on Wheels funding, contact Nevada’s congressional delegates.

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