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Trump’s First 100 Days: Appalachia gutted by Trump’s budget proposal

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President Donald Trump presented his budget proposal to Congress this morning. It’s filled with cuts to various different agencies and boosts in areas such as defense spending.

This has naturally attracted criticism from both sides of the aisle. Republicans have spoken out against the broad budget cuts, and Democrats have tailored their messaging toward critiquing the administration’s cuts to programs such as Meals on Wheels, which White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney categorized as not delivering on its promise.

That’s the national picture, but Trump’s budget focuses on something much closer to Ohio. The current version is proposing the elimination the Appalachian Regional Commission. The ARC has served as state-federal partnership in order to promote economic development in the Appalachia region since 1965.

The partnership was a principal spearhead of the federal government’s “war on poverty.” The region inspired that particular policy movement after Harry Caudill’s “Night Comes to the Cumberlands” made Appalachian poverty a major topic in national discourse.

The ARC recently expanded its stake in Ohio, bringing Youngstown under its watch after the steel industry crisis sent the town into a serious economic downturn.

Another Ohio-centric program Trump proposed defunding is the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been responsible for keeping the world’s largest freshwater supply of freshwater clean and free of harmful algae since 2010. Ohio shares its border with one of the five Great Lakes along with seven other states who also are adjacent to one of the lakes.

Speaking of borders, Trump’s budget included a $2.6 billion allocation to starting the construction of a border wall and an increase of $54 billion in defense spending. By comparison, The Appalachian Regional Commission and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative received $95 million and $300 million last year, respectively.

Of course, the president doesn’t hold the power of the purse and ultimately it falls to Congress to decide what gets funded. With Republicans split on the breadth of the budget cuts, it’s unclear if they’ll take any of Trump’s proposal into consideration.

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