Rev. Al Sharpton used his weekly rally on Saturday to assail what he called “the immorality” of President Donald Trump’s preliminary budget proposal, and to urge his followers to organize in opposition to its program-slashing designs.
The Republican president’s first draft spending plan, as unveiled on Thursday, proposed flaying $2.6 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency, eliminating the Community Development Block Grant and sloughing $15.1 billion from the federal Department of Health and Human Services. Sharpton called the first cut “environmental racism,” and noted that the latter two could impact state and local Meals-on-Wheels programs for the infirm and elderly—programs that Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney last week said “sound good” but suggested “don’t work.”
The spending plan would reallocate the cash from pared-down domestic programs to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, which seemed to particularly rankle the controversial civil rights leader.
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“The immorality of taking Meals-on-Wheels away while you increase by billions a military budget when you not in war. The immorality of that,” Sharpton exclaimed to the crowd at the Harlem headquarters of his National Action Network. “Building in a military-industrial complex, on the backs of people who will be living in contaminated communities, whose children will be growing up with asthma and all, because you cut parts of the EPA. Something wicked about that. Something wicked and immoral and unethical.”
The answer, the black activist said, was to rally and unify people in opposition to the proposals before the House and Senate pass their budget resolutions next month. In the absence of such a campaign, Sharpton asserted that Trump and his allies would feel comfortable forging ahead with their plans in their current form.
“This is the most draconian, devastating budget proposal that we’ve seen in a long time. And if we don’t challenge it, they will go forward with this by the absence of our movement,” he said. “They throw things out and gauge the reaction. Don’t think they ain’t watching. Say, ‘well, well, what, what, throw that out, see what they will do.’ And when there is no organizing, no mobilization, they feel they can move forward.”