Compassionate program that feeds schoolchildren is again at risk

The Great Educationalist Donald Trump’s failed try at dumping at-risk schoolchildren into his astounding sinkhole of uninformed ignorance won’t go down in history as a signature failure of his decaying dynasty, but perhaps it should.

His intended victim last year was a $1.2 billion program called 21st Century Community Learning Centers, a very modest government venture to fund after-school treats and simple education programs for kids who would inevitably be exposed otherwise to the cruelest aspect of poverty.

Unable or unwilling to recognize thuggish behavior, Trump sent out his paternal pit bull, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, with a message slyly revealing Herr Trump intended to use his unearned and undeserved bully pulpit to kiss little babies while he stole their lollipops.

“When we took your money from you, to say, ‘Look, we’re going to go spend it on an after-school program,’ the way we justified it was, ‘These programs are going to help these kids do better in school and get better jobs.’ And we can’t prove that that’s happening,” he reportedly shared with Beltway scribes.

The Trumplandian lie machine hasn’t proved it doesn’t either. Simply put, the kids in the federally funded after-school program receive otherwise hard to count on nutrition before they go to class and other activities only available because of tax dollars.

NPR’s Pam Fessler reported that “each day, the kids get a healthy snack, then an hour of help with subjects like English and math and another hour doing something extra like cooking or robotics.”

The mentally impaired Wordsmith-In-Chief doesn’t intend crushing little children’s dreams with his usual 4th-grade quality Twitter bombast, no sir. Too cruel! He twice blew the crap out of Syrian innocents for being cruel, but that is apparently different because they are Syrian children. In America, the Machiavellian madman is limited to shooting down the pathetic crumbs of humanity accidentally falling from the brave new world of legalized corporate pirating that Trump calls governance.

Ably diverting public attention away from his egregious misdeeds by braying about his lost innocence at the hands of  Stormy Daniels, the deceitful man ordered his minions to chip away at every rancid “entitlement” that did not positively impact the business model the Republican super-elite puppet masters pulling the strings of Congress mandate to enrich corporate America.

What the political putz in the White House did not get from his favorite fading fortune teller was notice of a significant lack of enthusiasm for screwing over kiddies by Democrats and moderate Republicans keeping one eye on the mid-term election. Trump was pissing people off by being such a stingy, selfish ass and it wasn’t going to stand, except he didn’t know it.

Congress, to get the humongous military giveaway budget bill passed so Trump could claim a 2018 political victory, produced a pyrrhic budget triumph that included funding the after-school program for one more year. In fact, just about every entitlement program that Trump wanted cut was restored not only adequately, but sometimes even extravagantly. It seemed a slap in the face of the president.

Behind Trump’s sudden, gratuitous acceptance of the compromise budget was a sinister plot, a plan to kill the same despised programs in 2019, after the 2018 budget’s punishing reality takes hold and formerly complacent conservatives start freaking out over the insurmountable debt they created.

In the venal politics of Trumplandian trickle-down theory, the old smile-while-I-piss-on-you program, is intended not only to wash away the tiny after-school program, but the entire laundry list of obscure, sometimes questionable, yet popular cultural programs and institutions that help bind the country into a cohesive culture. Because Mr. Trump doesn’t like the programs, no one should, not even hungry little people.

Perhaps his badly programmed blow to children was the most galling and insensitive body slam Trump wanted to inflict on society while the obscenely bloated Omnibus Spending Act of 2018 was being debated, but it was not the only target looking for cover. Altogether, 22 programs that ostensibly benefit people rather than corporations were seeking safe harbor before the passage of the 2018 budget act. Unfortunately, the 2019 presidential budget proposal already slashes the same programs with the bloody meat-cutting ax Mulvaney wielded during the secret budget talks last summer and fall.

Echoing the FY18 budget proposal released last year, Trump’s cabal is once again recommending elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative in all 50 states. Elimination of these funds for after-school local programs will deprive access for 1.7 million children and their families to after-school programs.

Among the endangered public projects are nine other relatively cheap efforts aimed directly at helping struggling people get a shot at the American Dream. Together these programs’ demise wouldn’t pay for a single $13 billion aircraft carrier. They include:

  • The Rural Business and Cooperative Service, which provides loans, grants and payments intended to increase education, vocational and economic opportunities in rural communities.
  • The Economic Development Administration, which provides federal grants to communities to support locally developed economic plans.
  • Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, an Education Department effort that provides grants to support college preparation for low-income students.
  • The NASA Office of Education, which provides grants to colleges and universities, museums and science centers. The funding would be redirected within NASA.
  • The Chemical Safety Board, which is tasked with investigating major industrial accidents.
  • The Corporation for National and Community Service, which funds service opportunities, promotes volunteering and helps nonprofit organizations find volunteers.
  • The Corporation for Public Broadcasting,  which funds public television and radio stations.
  • The Institute of Museum and Library Services, which awards grants to museums and libraries nationwide.
  • The National Endowment for the Arts,  which funds American artists and projects with grants.
  • The Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, which funds community development projects nationwide.

Although Trump’s nimble-tongued hatchet man says there’s no evidence the currently $1.2 billion nationwide after-school program works, school associations and teacher councils argue that the minuscule federal dollars unquestionably feed otherwise hungry kids and provide a safe place where they just might learn something. That should be reason enough to keep the program alive.

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