It is no secret that recently, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had to defend the Trump administration’s attempt to make significant cuts to multiple student programs, including a nearly $18 million cut towards government funding of the Special Olympics.
Though this attempt was ultimately overruled and will continue to be federally funded, it prompted considerable outrage amongst those who have personally been affected and proposed further curiosities as to why other program cuts have also been attempted.
If you are unaware, the Special Olympics organizes competitive athletic events for the intellectually disabled, “giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.”
During her testimony before Congress, Betsy DeVos admitted that she did not personally sign off on the Special Olympics’ cut. DeVos herself has donated to the program.
Though obviously a beneficial organization, the Trump administration’s proposal drew critical remarks from government officials, including Representative John Kennedy III, whose great aunt, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founded the Special Olympics in 1968. Kennedy stated that, “it’s cruel, it’s misguided and it’s outrageous.”
So then why did DeVos try to defend such a dramatic cut?
She explains, “There are dozens of worthy nonprofits that support students and adults with disabilities that don’t get a dime of federal grant money. But given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations.”
As of 2017, the organization accumulated $149 million in revenue – of that, $15.5 million came from federal funding. Some might argue that even with federal cuts, the Special Olympics- a tax deductible non-profit- would still receive hefty donations, allowing the program to continue satisfactorily.
However, it should be understood that President Trump’s initial proposed budgets for fiscal years 2018, 2019 and 2020 intended to give nothing at all to the Special Olympics. The only reason the Special Olympics continued to receive funding was because Congress chose to disregard his proposals.
Despite Betsy DeVos’ defense of the Trump administration’s proposition, many people still urged the government to continue funding such a beloved program.
Though President Trump has acted out of pressure from public uproar, now that he has overruled the proposal, he has repudiated his original plan to cut spending.
Further proposed cuts by the Trump administration that deserve more attention than they have been getting include eliminating a $4.8 million program meant to enhance American civics and history education, a $190 million cut to a program intended to boost literacy instruction and more than a $207 billion cut over a ten year period to student loan programs.
Other cuts proposed for 2020 would bring even more of a blow to college students, especially those who rely on Federal Work-Study programs, as the Trump administration wishes to cut more than 55 percent of its funds.
If you are interested in additional information, the U.S. Government budget can be viewed at www.whitehouse.gov.