It would be the Great American Fire Sale. It would be a boon for corporate interests and a blow to accountability and transparency.
President Donald Trump's first draft budget released Monday is a deficit-ballooning expression of White House staff scrambling to turn the rantings of an incurious, insecure man into actual policy.
And it reads like an auction pamphlet aimed at billionaires and multinationals.
Ever dream of running your own low-orbit hotel? Well, the International Space Station would be on the market in a few years.
Are you a fan of Public Broadcasting or National Public Radio? Those staples of American journalism, art and culture could soon be available as Trump would de-fund them over a two-year period.
Maybe Netflix is interested in packaging highway access with a premium subscription? No worries there, either, as Trump's long-discussed infrastructure plan effectively rolls back federal involvement and depends on state, local and private investment to actually work. Neither the states nor local governments have the estimated $1 trillion needed just to bring highways, bridges and airports up to snuff. Best case scenario, toll roads pop up all over the place. More likely, entire stretches of highway are privatized.
Buy the new iPhone, wayward traveler? Well, it's your lucky day. This stretch of road has special amenities for loyal Apple customers, complete with broadband connectivity and a sweet specialty dating app for motorists.
While Interstate-iPhone X might be a little tongue-in-cheek, the partial privatization of the nation's infrastructure network is an obvious goal here. Same goes for the ISS. It may very well be a luxury weightless resort for the uber-wealthy in a few short years. Trump's draft budget would have NASA turn over the ISS to commercial or international investors by 2024, Washington Post first reported. And it designates $150 million to prepare private industry to take control of the space station.
Trump's infrastructure plan might be the greatest head scratcher of the lot. It's no secret that the president doesn't have much respect for nerds and their ideas. But since Trump's campaign, he's bragged about being a "builder" and how that would equate to some bold, imaginative way to salvage crumbling highways and aging bridges. No where in the plan is a new way to fund infrastructure. Gas tax, for decades the method of funding road projects, is failing as cars become more efficient. The White House solution is to just punt the problem to the states and big business.
And all this cutting won't save a dime. In fact, the White House's $4.4 trillion package includes $300 million in new spending. It explodes the deficit by $7 trillion over the next decade. And it includes $23 billion for bolstered immigration enforcement and a border wall, a boondoggle-in-the-making that serves only to boost the president's ego. A little perspective, NPR and PBS annually receive less than $20 million in federal funding combined.
Like immigration, the military would be -- and has already been -- well served in the Trump era. Pentagon spending this past week saw a $195 million bump.
Relatively cheap things like science and art would be shown the gallows under Trump's vision of the country. Big, expensive, manly endeavors -- prisons and war -- get showered in cash.
Monday's proposed federal budget is the Trump era in a nutshell -- rampant insecurity cloaked as hyper-masculinity. It's weakness posing as strength. It's contempt for culture outside of a narrow definition of "real America." It's the proposed wholesaling of American assets and culture.