Las Vegas Sun

June 13, 2021

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Even zeroing out Yucca Mountain funding can’t spit shine this budget

When President Donald Trump opted not to include funding for a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in his proposed budget, he made sure to let Nevadans know about it by tweeting, “Nevada, I hear you on Yucca Mountain ...”

But he wasn’t so forthcoming about how other aspects of his budget would affect our state, and no wonder. It would be terrible for Nevada, and for the nation overall.

Among the most damaging elements, the budget would:

• Slash Medicaid funding by $900 billion over 10 years, which, as Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., was quick to point out, would jeopardize the coverage of Nevadans who enrolled in the state’s Medicaid expansion since it went into effect in 2014.

• Cut Medicare by $500 billion over 10 years.

• Eliminate $6.2 billion in Department of Education resources — an 8.5% reduction — including complete elimination of funding for after-school programs.

• Reduce funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, by $182 billion over 10 years.

• Completely axe the Community Development Block Grant, which is used by local governments to build and rehabilitate affordable housing, maintain and expand roads and other infrastructure, and generate economic development in distressed communities, among other things.

• Gut the Environmental Protection Agency budget by 26%, eliminating 50 EPA programs that fight pollution, radon, lead and other toxins, and more.

• Cut scientific research across the board, particularly on climate.

• Carve all but about 3% out of the newly reauthorized Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has been used for numerous enhancements in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Sunset Park, the Springs Preserve and other areas.

• Cut $230 million from the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act, which supports the state’s water authority and education fund through sales of federal land.

• Shrink funding for Transportation Security Administration staffing at airports, programs to aid small businesses and incentives for manufacturing jobs.

And that’s just a partial list.

Although the specific effects of Trump’s budget on Nevada weren’t immediately available, there’s no question the impact would be utterly devastating to Nevadans.

Nevada’s working-class families — those Trump falsely claims to champion — would be among those hurt the worst due to reductions in public education, affordable housing, nutrition assistance and more. And a vast number of Nevada’s working class and seniors would see their health care at risk.

If Trump wants to hear Nevada, we say this: Stop damaging America’s working class and stop shoveling benefits to the 1%.

The good news is that Congress rejected similarly draconian cuts in Trump’s previous budgets and can be counted on to do so again this year.

Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., spoke for many of his colleagues during a House Budget Committee meeting in criticizing administration officials for targeting social service funding after passing the GOP’s 2017 tax package.

“Sweeping money from the children of Nevada to balance your budget on the backs of working Americans after giving a tax cut to the very wealthy and big corporations is not going to happen,” Horsford said. “Not on my watch.”

That’s a commendable stance, and the five Democrats in Nevada’s congressional delegation are unified in it. Both Democrats and Republicans in other states have also criticized Trump’s budget.

But regardless of what happens with it, the budget should be remembered as a reflection of Trump’s cruelty toward enormous swaths of Americans. He may be stopped from taking food from the mouths of needy children or snatching health care away from the elderly and others who desperately need public support, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t try.

Meanwhile, even his decision on Yucca Mountain is no reason to celebrate. As he’s shown countless times, this unhinged president could change his mind anytime for virtually any reason.

Nevadans must put an end to this in November.