Betsy DeVos has proposed cutting the federal government spending on the Special Olympics in response to President Trump’s requests to cut costs at the Federal departments.
The cut would be approximately 18 million dollars, of a roughly 116 million dollar budget (numbers from Charity Navigator.) The program will not disappear. It will merely go from federally funded to privately funded, which is something that fiscal conservatives would traditionally appreciate.
Issues remain. The reason the cuts are being sought is not to lower the overall spending, but merely to shift cash from one location to another… in this case, arguably, for a border wall. Also, however, because funding is not being cut for some of the Presidential perks where spending has risen, the argument could easily be made that the money is being diverted to cover the costs of security and travel for Trump’s regular weekend visits to Mar-a-lago.
This is not fiscally conservative. This is raiding a program designed for handicapped children with no lifting of the overall Federal financial burden.
Also of a concern is the sudden departure of roughly 1/6 of an organization’s funding. Organizations have a set cost, established by things like rent payments and staffing. Only after all of those are covered is there money available for hosting events. The 1/6 loss will have a disproportionate effect on the actual events being run by the Special Olympics.
At least, in America. Since being founded in the 1960s, the Special Olympics has grown from being an American activity to one embraced in most developed countries throughout the world. Because of that, this comparatively minor reduction on the part of the U.S. government will have ramifications for foreign policy. It is one of many small ways in which the American nation displays that it is morally superior to other, more dictatorial or communist nations. We are abandoning that benefit for no appreciable gain.
Then there is the matter of the Department of Education itself. This is a department whose very existence places like the CATO institute have been arguing against for years. It is a place where, just last year, a single program was revealed to have cost $7 Billion in waste (Mygovcost.org). The decision to attack a highly visible program which is perceived as a force for good and has a history of concrete results for a comparatively tiny cost is a poor one.
This is to be seen most notably in the political arena. I fully expect that this decision will be rescinded in the wake of outcry, both from members of the public and the politicians who are (theoretically) beholden to them. The Republicans will spin any such result as an example of why it’s so hard to cut federal spending. The Democrats will simply paint the Republicans as monsters who don’t care about disabled children. With video available of the President seeming to mock a disabled reporter, this will be an incredibly easy charge for them to make stick.
If they are clever, the Democrats may even go back to the L.A. Times interview where Trump’s son explained in detail that Trump is a believer in “race horse theory”, a specific subdivision of eugenics. The last thing any political party should want are valid comparisons to the Nazis.