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A ‘Fake News’ Budget for America’s Genuine Health Needs

Mar 16, 2017

Kittens are next. And then Disney characters, followed by snow days. These, from leaked documents, are apparently the next targets of the Trump budget team.

Now those of you who have studied the process of federal budget making might interject that Uncle Sam doesn’t do much in the first place to fund kittens. Or Disney characters. Or snow days. And that even if the President wanted to cut their nonexistent federal funding, he’d still have to go through Congress to do it. That august group, after all, is the actual holder of the federal purse.

But then, one could dismiss just as handily the proposed 2018 federal budget that the White House released yesterday. That spending recommendation—entitled “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again”—would slash $5.8 billion, or about 18%, from the annual outlay for the National Institutes of Health, and it would cut even more sharply from other programs within the Department of Health and Human Services. And while no specific numbers have yet been revealed in the Trump budget outline for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Republican replacement plan for Obamacare already has that agency in the cross hairs—by promising to eliminate a government prevention and public health fund that puts a billion dollars in the CDC’s coffers, the Washington Post reports. As for the Environmental Protection Agency, it would suffer the goriest cuts of all—with budgeteers (rumored to be wearing Jason-style hockey masks) preparing to slash nearly a third of the department’s budget.

American voters, it would seem, strongly like the notion that federally supported doctors, scientists, nurses, and other caregivers are trying to protect their health and well-being. They like the fact that researchers are frantically searching for cures for cancer, and Alzheimer’s and dreaded viruses galore, and working to prevent the next global pandemic, and trying to keep the environment safe from threats, whether in our backyards or far away. (That’s what poll after poll says, at any rate.) And lawmakers in Congress clearly know this, too.

So why would the President propose a budget that cuts these beloved programs to the bone?

Hmm. I honestly don’t know. But all I can say is, “Watch out, pandas. You’re next.”

This essay appears in today's edition of the Fortune Brainstorm Health Daily. Get it delivered straight to your inbox.

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