A budget blueprint being circulated on Capitol Hill by President Donald Trump’s transition team would shut down the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, and gut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies.
VentureBeat has learned that the 180-page document, Blueprint for Balance: A Federal Budget for 2017, which was prepared by the Heritage Foundation, is being used as a playbook to plan governance for the next four years. In peril, among many important things, are grants involving technology designed to serve the public.
For instance, the budget blueprint would pull the plug on public service events like “Ask an Expert” on National History Day, which relied on Google Hangouts to involve more than 600,000 students.
Also shuttered would be the EPA’s information exchange/outreach programs, which the budget blueprint describes as “projects that educate and increase awareness about stewardship, children’s health, and environmental education (EE).” Tech companies involved in “implementing community-level programs; and tracking and communicating measures, indicators, and progress on children’s health” would be affected. For instance, the EPA’s Water Tools project uses Google Earth to enable citizens to safeguard and manage their local waterways.
Federal budgets are usually proposed by the President and the Office of Management and Budget, and then Congress creates a budget that sets off table-pounding and saber-rattling by lawmakers, lobbyists, and the citizenry. In a startling departure, however, the Trump transition team has instructed OMB to use the Heritage Foundation document as a framework for the budget-making process, a source familiar with the matter told VentureBeat.
“This blueprint is what we’re hearing we should expect,” the source said, describing the document as ideological fiction. “It was written by people who have talent in making shit up. There is no rigor. No need to base their work in fact or reality. [It’s] fiction that states and localities will be able to address the challenges these agencies do. Fiction that these problems will go away. Many programs do work.”
The White House did not immediately respond to our request for comment.
However, if Congress under Trump consents to the budget blueprint’s recommendations, then technology leaders like Elon Musk, whose companies and investments have in many ways profited from federal regulations, may find themselves with buyer’s remorse. Surely Tesla’s popularity has benefited from EPA standards and environmental education. And just this spring, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft were supporting the EPA’s push for clean energy. Where would this budget blueprint leave their efforts?
In a fit of irony, one technology favored by these budget recommendations will be tools that hasten the distribution of leaks, like the strongbox-style encrypted tip inboxes increasingly adopted by media companies.