By Reginald Johnson
Mayors around the country are rallying against President Trump’s federal budget plan, which slashes funding for social services and urban needs, while increasing the military budget.
The United States Conference of Mayors, which represents hundreds of small and large cities, recently passed several resolutions which demand that Congress oppose Trump’s proposed $54 billion increase in military spending and instead put the money back into human needs including housing, education, health care and job creation.
“Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the United States Conference of Mayors urges the United States Congress to move our tax dollars in exactly the opposite direction proposed by the president, from militarism to human and environmental needs,” said the resolution.
A second resolution, introduced by New Haven, CT Mayor Toni Harp, calls on the mayors of each of the member cities to promptly hold public hearings that examine what each city department needs to carry out their goals and what they could accomplish if funds were available that now go to the military.
That resolution also urges legislative bodies in all cities to pass resolutions “calling on our federal legislators and the US government to move significant funds away from the military budget to human needs.”
A number of mayors around the country in recent weeks have expressed concern about the negative impact that the Trump $4.1 trillion budget plan for 2018 would have on their communities. The budget proposal calls for deep cuts in funds for Medicaid, food stamps, education, environmental protection and housing. The budget would wipe out some programs altogether, such as the community development block grant, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, for instance, said the budget would have a “hugely negative impact” on the city. New York stands to lose some $912 million in federal aid, if the budget is approved.
Several peace organizations, including the US Peace Council and CODEPINK reacted enthusiastically to the action by the US Conference of Mayors.
“The Peace Council applauds the resolve of major city mayors to dramatically cut the US military budget and to take the funds saved to provide money for jobs education, housing, transportation, seniors, youth, rebuild our roads, bridges public transportation and much more,” said Henry Lowendorf of the US Peace Council.
“The mayors understand how pouring the wealth of our great country into building war machines and waging wars around the globe does not make us more secure. To the contrary, this gigantic military budget is strangling our country and the many unnecessary wars only generate death, destruction and enemies.” said Lowendorf, who chairs the Greater New Haven Peace Council.
Medea Benjamin, of CODEPINK, said “We are very excited that the entire US Conference of Mayors, from major metropoles such as New York City and Los Angeles to small rural townships, understand that the resources being sucked up by the Pentagon to wage endless wars overseas should be used to address our crumbling infrastructure, the climate crisis and poverty at home and abroad. Congress and the Trump administration should listen to these mayors, as they reflect the needs and hopes of their constituents, not the greed of corporate donors.”
New Haven’s Board of Alders earlier this year passed a resolution calling on Congress to reduce the appropriation for defense and divert that money into human and social needs. New Haven is one of a number cities and towns around the country that have passed such resolutions.