Yesterday President Trump signed legislation intended to cut off all federal funding to Planned Parenthood and other groups that perform abortions. He thereby nullified a rule signed by President Obama that barred state and local governments from withholding federal funds for family planning services that performed abortions.
The new legislation is in keeping not only with Trump’s particular priority of restricting abortions; it is also in keeping with his general priority of building a budget that strongly favors hard power over soft power. As New York Times columnist David Brooks pointed out, Trump’s proposed budget aims to cut if not decimate those parts of government that seem to him “soft and nurturing” (like poverty programs), or “emotional and airy-fairy” ((like the National Endowment for the Arts), or “smart and nerdy (like the National Institute for Health).* In contrast, it aims to beef up funding for those parts of government that seem to him “manly, hard, muscular and ripped” – most obviously those associated with the military and national security.
Trump’s budgetary priorities are evident in these numbers:
• On the one hand, he proposes to slash federal funding for the Department of State and the Agency for International Development by over one quarter – 28%.
• On the other hand, he proposes to boost federal funding for the Department of Defense by 10% – in the coming fiscal year alone. (Similar increases are slated for the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the National Nuclear Security Agency.)
Trump’s budget is not yet etched in stone. But the president’s preferences are clear. As Mick Mulvaney put it – he was Trump’s pick for director of the Office of Management and Budget – “There is no question this is a hard-power budget. It is not a soft-power budget. This is a hard-power budget. And that was done intentionally.”**
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Trump’s budget is like Trump himself – all man.