The More Mundane Savagery of Donald Trump's Budget

Olive Hill, Kentucky, is a shitty town of poor people in a beautiful area of Kentucky, in Carter County, near the border where the state meets both Ohio and West Virginia. The population is pretty much 100% white, about a third of the population lives at or below the poverty line, and one out of every 79 residents is a registered sex offender. And the water system in town is so outdated that "Two surveys estimate a 45-50 percent water loss due to corroded piping." You can bet there are issues with the quality of that water coming from the corroded cast iron waterline. But the town, which voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by 74% to 22%, just got a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, a cooperative effort of the state and federal governments to help some of the poorest areas of the country. The $243,000 grant may not seem like much, but for a small town like Olive Hill, it'll be transformative for the health and well-being of the people there.

ARC was part of the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965, passed on a bipartisan basis, signed by LBJ. The whole thing came about after John F. Kennedy had a report done on the ludicrous poverty under which people were living in the Appalachian area, which includes 13 states. Their governors, mostly Republicans, but some Democrats, sit on the commission (Kentucky's own Matt Bevins works with them constantly, and he's a bastard) along with a presidential appointee. That's currently Earl Gohl, who was confirmed by a voice vote in the Senate in 2010. So since its creation, ARC has been a fairly noncontroversial program.

In fact, you could argue it is doing more for the coal miners than Donald Trump could ever manage. ARC helped give nearly $3 million in a grant to an effort called TechHire Eastern Kentucky in order to retrain workers for jobs in technology and communications, with a big push for investment in the region for the development of a tech sector. The first pilot class of trainees had 1600 applicants for roughly 50 seats. It's a start.

Carter County and most of Eastern Kentucky are in what ARC calls "Distressed Counties," 84 areas that ARC is directing aid and grants to try to pull the region out of poverty, with another 100 or so counties considered "At Risk" for slipping into the "Distressed" category. The agency funded 400 projects last year. In fiscal 2015, ARC was responsible for finding jobs for over 23,000 people. This is in addition to the infrastructure spending, including electricity, telecommunications, roads, and, yes, water. A couple of dozen of the funded projects had to do with drinking water in the region.

ARC requested a budget of $120 million for this fiscal year. If Donald Trump's budget were to pass, it would get nothing. Yet 400 out of 420 counties covered by ARC voted for Trump, believing he would rebuild their communities and bring them jobs.

There is so much savagery in Trump's proposed and likely destined-to-fail budget that it's almost impossible to take it all in. There are the cuts that will guarantee job loss, cuts that will kick people out of homes, cuts that will kill medical research, cuts that will poison us, cuts that will make us unsafe and insecure, all to justify building up the military to face enemies that are either greatly inflated or created by Trump and his evil buffoons. And, of course, so we can give more money to rich people.

No, ARC isn't quite as easily identifiable as Meals on Wheels. But think about Olive Hill and its fucked-up water. $243,000 barely qualifies as a molecule in a drop in the bucket of the federal budget. But for the couple of thousand people who live there, it means that they won't have to worry about simply getting water from their faucets. The whole area needs more help with chemicals in the water. ARC was funding some projects to improve it, but between its funding cut and the slashing of the budget of the EPA, well, we should all invest in bottled water. It'll probably be currency before long. Oh, and the health care that they get from Kynect to help with any health issues related to the water? That'll be gone, baby, gone.

And let's not forget: Trump is doing this to people who overwhelmingly voted for him; they're his goddamn base. What the fuck is he gonna do to the rest of us?

This is such class warfare that Trump may as well just send troops into the poor areas of the nation, the inner cities that he promised to make flourish, the Rust Belt communities, the shack towns of Appalachia, and fuckin' set 'em all on fire. After they're wiped out, he can declare that he's helped make the nation even greater by eliminating poverty.

But in 2020, most of 'em will line up to vote for Trump again and chant, "Lock her up," as if that will create jobs, clean the air and water, feed them, house them, and get them health care.