Letter to the Editor: State’s delegation should fight for spending priorities

As the 2017 federal budget is being drawn up, let us look at the “let them eat cake” attitude the current administration is displaying and think about our own priorities as a country. According to a Feb. 22 article in Forbes, Trump’s family trips cost taxpayers nearly as much in a month as Obama’s cost in a whole year. Niall McCarthy writes, “Barack Obama’s travel expenses averaged just $12.1 million during each year of his presidency. In total, Obama’s eight year travel bill came to $97 million and unbelievably, Donald Trump is on pace to outspend him in less than one year.”
According to a Feb. 16 article in the Washington Post, the current bill for the Trump family’s travel is already (after one month) estimated to be about $10 million dollars. At the same time they are spending taxpayer money so extravagantly, this Republican administration is talking about cutting spending for the American people in so many ways, including funding for energy, environment and climate, and the arts.
None of these programs even cost the taxpayer that much money! Check out the National Priorities Project https://www.nationalpriorities.org/ to learn more about how much of your tax bill goes to fund different programs.
This administration should be accountable for its behavior. We are supporting the business and pleasure travel of the Trump family. Three trips a month to Mar-a-Lago and business trips to Dubai that do not enrich anyone except Trump’s family, are not high on my list of priority spending. They are spending our money on themselves while at the same time they discuss stripping away programs such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities.
These programs support arts and humanities nationwide and in our town. The Ilsley Library is able to bring speakers with new perspectives to Middlebury thanks to federal funding from the NEH through the Vermont Humanities Council. These kinds of programs feed our culture and enrich everyone and I’m happy to pay a few dollars a year for my share.
The Vermont Humanities Council is asking us to help in these ways: Call the offices of Vermont’s congressional delegation, thank them for their past support, ask them to continue that strong support and tell them why you value VHC’s work and that of the NEH.
Maybe the humanities aren’t your thing. But maybe you are concerned about alternative energy, or environmental protection, or support for small and minority businesses. Look into the budget as it is presented. Whatever your priorities, do call your members of congress and ask them to support those priorities!
Jennifer Stefani

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