The Trump administration just released its proposed fiscal year 2018 budget, and well...
The document outlines billions of dollars in cuts to dozens of popular social programs that previously have enjoyed bipartisan support while simultaneously pumping an equal and opposite number of billions into defense.
Some analysts argue we shouldn't be too concerned. After all, they say, the budget isn't and probably won't be policy. It's just a "wish list."
Even some Republican legislators say the document is "dead on arrival."
But if it is indeed a "wish list," what are its architects wishing for?
Having read the proposed budget, I can only imagine their requests went something like this:
1. "Fairy godmother, please slow down cancer research and make it so more Americans get heart disease."
The authors of the proposed budget wish to cut funding to the National Cancer Institute by a whopping $1 billion and funding to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute by $575 million.
That's a really weird wish! Moreover, it directly conflicts with the wishes of the millions of Americans with cancer and cardiopulmonary conditions and their relatives who wish not to die — or watch their family members die — from those diseases. And they probably wish their government could help them out a little bit in that regard.
2. "Genie, I wish that fewer poor people were able to see a doctor..."
The budget proposal includes a wish to slash over $800 billion from Medicaid, which covers over 75 million families.
Those 75 million families have wishes too. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 42% of Trump voters say Medicaid is "somewhat" or "very" important to them. Their wishes probably include not having their kidney disease, hepatitis, or multiple sclerosis treated in an emergency room simply because they can't afford private health insurance.
Those wishes won't be granted if Medicaid goes away.
3. "...and while you're at it, make it harder for them to attend college, too!"
If this budget is enacted, many low-income students will see their subsidized loans eliminated.
It turns out, thousands of Americans who don't have rich parents wish to be able to attend college without years, or even decades, of being buried under crippling personal debt. If they lose that ability, it won't matter how much they pull themselves up by their bootstraps since eliminating those loans is like tying their bootstraps to a refrigerator taped to an anvil double-bolted to a neutron star.
4. "Oh, all-seeing stone, won't you put our diplomats overseas at considerable personal risk?"
If the Trump administration gets its wish, the State Department would lose 31% of its budget.
That's something Sen. Lindsay Graham believes could lead to American foreign service officers dying on the job — or, "a lot of Benghazis in the making," as the senator told The Washington Post.
That's something Graham — and those American foreign service members and their families — definitely wishes won't happen.
5. "Kindly wizard, let's cut back on providing health care to sick kids."
Oh, also, the budget reduces funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) — which makes it easier for 5.6 million working-class kids to see a doctor — by 20%.
Like rich kids, non-rich kids wish to be able to go out and play and scrape their knee without being charged hundreds of dollars for antibiotics. The ability to just be a kid would be imperiled for millions of them if the Trump administration gets its budget wish.
6. "Bridge troll, we have answered your riddles three. Now we wish to take food away from families struggling to make ends meet!"
Families who depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aka food stamps, wish to continue feeding their families — a wish that could be denied by the proposed budget cuts that would take nearly $200 billion from the program.
An analysis by The Washington Post found that families with more than four children could fare even worse because the budget would cap benefits at the maximum amount currently allotted to a family of six.
7. "And last but not least, we wish we may we wish we might turn a blind eye to climate change tonight! Glow, magic monkey's paw, glow!"
For the polar bears who wish not to have their habitats eliminated, the coral that wishes not to be bleached, and the residents of coastal cities who wish not to have their homes slide into the sea forever, the budget merrily would ax EPA funding by 31%.
That's not going to help anyone if — and, as is becoming more inevitable, when — the flood waters rise.
The only way to stop these bizarre budget wishes from coming true is if ordinary people don't let them.
The good news: Regular folks have gotten pretty good at resisting in the last few months — hitting up protests, town halls, and their elected representatives' phone lines with the gusto usually reserved for a Madonna reunion tour or a Patriots Super Bowl loss.
Freeing up money for tax cuts, most of which will likely go to rich people, may be the wish of some in government. But that's not a wish shared by most Americans. And Americans now have a lot of practice having their say.