What's more important to the American people -- financing President Trump's trips to play golf at his palatial Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida or continuing funding for the Special Olympics?
That's exactly what Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's proposed Education Department budget comes down to as The Washington Post reports that just five of Trump's visits to his private golf resort would cover the $17,583,000 provided to the Special Olympics program this year by the federal government.
The Government Accountability Office determined that Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago cost taxpayers about $3.4 million each, largely as a function of transporting the president and support material. In fact, we taxpayers spent about as much on getting Trump to Mar-a-Lago by his second month in office as DeVos now wants to cut from supporting the Special Olympics.
What does that money pay for?
A study by the Government Accountability Office of Trump's first four trips to his private club in Florida showed that $8.5 million was spent by the Defense Department and $5 million by the Department of Homeland Security. It also includes about $60,000 paid directly to Mar-a-Lago itself, including $24,000 for lodging for Defense Department personnel and $36,000 for operational space used by DHS.
In other words, not only are we paying millions for Trump to go play golf, Trump's property is cashing in on the deal. Why can't those rooms for the Defense Department folks be comped? And the operational space, too? After all, it's for Trump's security and convenience. Why should we have to pay?
What was Devos's reaction when Congressional Democrats lambasted her for choosing to cut the Special Olympics funding?
"We had to make some difficult decisions with this budget,” she said.
"“I believe this budget is cruel, and I believe it is reckless,” said Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT), who chairs the education subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee at the hearing on Tuesday. “I really am left with a very serious question for you: How can you support this budget? I mean that genuinely.”
“I still can’t understand why you would go after disabled children in your budget. It’s appalling,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said.
Overall, the administration's education department budget plan cuts more than $8.5 billion, about 12 percent. On the chopping block are such programs as one that supports after-school activities for children in impoverished communities and a grant program for textbooks, equipment, counseling services and other needs for schools. Those funds, the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Program, also underwrite school safety efforts, including mental-health services and safety equipment.
At the same time, DeVos wants to spend federal tax dollars to support scholarships for private school students.
That plan would give individuals and corporations a 100 percent tax credit for contributions to state-sanctioned scholarship funds, meaning that donors could get back their entire donation through federal taxes. The money would be given to students to help pay tuition at private schools and other expenses.
Anybody with any sense of morality, any sense of what is right and what is wrong would feel the same way as Rep. Lee. It just isn't right.
The larger problem is that DeVos's budget proposal is simply a microcosm of the Trump administration's priorities and who it favors. Cut money for public schools (where most people send their kids), eliminate money for Special Olympics (which supports those with disabilities), and then set up a cash cow plan for families who can afford to send their kids to private schools.
All this while we're paying millions so Trump can vacation at Mar-a-Lago, pal around with his buddies, and play golf.