Trump budget would strip $1 billion from Mass., Markey says
WASHINGTON — President Trump’s proposed budget would strip Massachusetts of nearly $1 billion in federal funding for research, clean energy, education, and social services programs, according to an analysis released Friday by Democratic Senator Ed Markey.
The report details how numerous programs in the state would be affected by the budget, with the potential loss of National Institutes of Health grants topping the list for the most dramatic impact. Trump’s budget calls for an 18 percent reduction in NIH grants, which would amount to a $463 million cut for Massachusetts.
“It’s also a direct attack on the business plan of Massachusetts, which is very much focused on innovation, education, biotech, research, and clean energy,” Markey said. “The Trump budget would slash those programs in a way that would have a significant negative impact on our long-term job growth in Massachusetts.”
The estimates from Markey’s office, however, do not include potential boosts to the state’s defense industry as part of Trump’s proposal to significantly expand the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security budgets. Markey said the boost to defense contractors such as Waltham-based Raytheon and General Dynamics, which has shipyards in Maine and Connecticut, would not outweigh the consequences for low-income residents and research.
“If Trump wants to increase defense spending, he should eliminate his tax breaks for the rich in our country,” he said. “He’s using poor people and research programs as his piggy bank in order to increase defense spending.”
Trump submitted his budget, titled “America First,” on Thursday, outlining how he would bolster defense funding by $54 billion while scaling back support for the low-income, the elderly, and research. His administration defended the budget as a way to cut government waste.
“We can’t spend money on programs because they sound good,” Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said Thursday.
Congress will undoubtedly reshape the spending priorities, as it usually does with every president’s budget. But Trump’s budget has still come under an unusual barrage of bipartisan criticism.
Representative Hal Rogers of Kentucky, a Republican, called the budget “draconian, careless, and counterproductive,” and Markey said lawmakers on Capitol Hill are gearing up for bipartisan pushback to the proposal.
Although Markey’s report comes from an often-partisan Democrat, it is the first comprehensive analysis of how Trump’s budget would affect Massachusetts. The cuts to NIH funding would be especially dramatic given the funds are a chief driver of the state’s health care economy, which is the largest economic sector in the state. Markey’s report found the slashes to the NIH budget would result in 34 fewer NIH-funded institutions, 905 fewer NIH grants awarded, and 17 fewer NIH-supported clinical trials in 2018.
For example, the Fogarty International Center at the NIH, which supports global research and training programs, funds the work of many Massachusetts researchers. The center would be eliminated under Trump’s proposal, threatening the longevity of many research projects.
Wafaie Fawzi, the chair of the department of global health and population at Harvard’s School of Public Health, said many of his projects have been supported by the Fogarty International Center and reductions to the program would undermine the United States’ position as a leader in global health. He is currently working on HIV/AIDS research and prevention strategies in Tanzania with funding from the center.
“I really believe this is a very cost-effective way to advance the health of people in those countries as well as the people in the US,” he said.
Trump’s direct aim at the NIH comes after his address to a joint session of Congress last month when he spoke to the importance of medical research. Trump told the story of Megan Crowley, a 20-year-old Notre Dame student who was born with Pompe disease, a rare illness. Crowley’s father helped develop a drug that saved her life, and in telling her story, Trump criticized the slow approval process at the Food and Drug Administration.
“If we slash the restraints, not just at the FDA but across our government, then we will be blessed with far more miracles just like Megan,” he said. “In fact, our children will grow up in a nation of miracles.”
Cuts to social services program would also have a dramatic impact on Massachusetts’ low-income and elderly residents. The elimination of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which provides assistance for low-income families for heating and cooling systems, would cost the state $149 million and affect nearly 200,000 families, according to Markey’s analysis. Joe Diamond, executive director of the Massachusetts Association for Community Action, said his organization helps more than 160,000 families through this program.
“It literally allows them to stay warm in the winter,” he said about the program. “We are concerned when people don’t have enough resources for fuel systems.”
Trump’s budget also takes aim at the Community Services Block Grant, which provides up to 21 percent of the budgets of 23 community action agencies in Massachusetts, Diamond said. He said the majority of the agencies use those grants to fund volunteer income tax assistance sites, which help low-income families access the Earned Income Tax Credit. Each year, the organization helps more than 19,000 families gain more than $32 million from the tax credit.
Governor Charlie Baker said the budget was “bad for Massachusetts” on Thursday, and his office said the administration will continue to advocate for federal funds.
“As the budget process plays out in Congress, the administration urges Massachusetts’ congressional delegation to work toward keeping these critical funding sources intact,” Lizzy Guyton, a spokeswoman for his office, said in a statement Friday.
Massachusetts’ congressional delegation, however, is entirely Democratic, giving its members less leverage in the Republican-controlled Congress.