South Dakotans, who went 2-to-1 for Trump last November in an outburst of euphoric infatuation, will soon be sobering up as they consider what the Trump administration's budget has in store for rural states like ours.
We rank fourth among states in terms of how much of our state's revenues come from the federal government — at $1.6 billion, about 40 percent overall, amounting to nearly $2,000 apiece in 2013, the latest year I could find. Trump's cuts in programs directed at South Dakota are a fine how-do-you-do to one of his politically friendliest states.
Trump has already shown serious disdain for South Dakota's economic interests, considering his hostility toward international trade deals that have been a boon for our farmers and ranchers during the past few decades. South Dakota's ag economy has much at stake in the world's markets for grain and livestock as Trump's new and severely constricted trading relationships evolve in coming years.
Major farm groups are already reacting with "shock and dismay" toward the possibilities in reports from ag information giant DTN. The recent fall of commodity prices will probably extend further into the future if our NAFTA trading partners, Mexico in particular, turn to other sources for their grain imports should Trump's threats to dismantle the agreement play out.
As if that "drop dead" attitude toward our state's largest industry isn't enough to compel serious concern, the Trump administration's proposed budget looks to be a real kick in the rear end to South Dakotans. If you're cheering the possibility of severe cutbacks in most areas of federal spending in order to raise extra money for the Defense Department, you should know that much more than our ag sector will be impacted by Trump-o-nomics.
The budget cuts for rural programs overseen by the Department of Agriculture are more than mere snips. In some cases — rural water and waste disposal, direct loans for single-family housing are examples — the funding disappears altogether, amounting to amputation. In others the cuts are merely severe: rural utilities will lose billions, rural business owners tens of millions.
Trump, who "loves the poorly educated," will continue on his quest to expand that element of his base by zeroing out programs that fund community learning centers, literacy development and other educational opportunity grants.
I suppose that some devoted guns-over-butter Trumpistas are willing to trade these programs in on another aircraft carrier or two, but for most of us rural denizens a bit of consideration seems to be in order at this point.
Our generally kowtowing congressional representatives are likely to feel some heat over their champion Trump's priorities, which is why the phrase "dead on arrival" is frequently applied to Trump's budget as it moves toward Congress for consideration.
Worthy outcome as that would be, there's a much more practical after effect, disclosing as it does the indifference that the Trump administration has for the impact of his rhetoric on the day-to-day lives of millions of rural Americans.