Monday, April 03, 2017

Many rural residents stick with Trump despite his proposals to eliminate local programs

President Trump's proposed budget cuts have caused confusion among his most ardent supporters in rural areas that would be hurt by the cuts, Jenna Johnson reports for The Washington Post. "Many red states like Oklahoma—where every single county went for Trump—are more reliant on the federal funds that Trump wants to cut than states that voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton."

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For example, in Durant, Okla., a town of 16,000 near the Texas border, Trump won 76 percent of the vote, Johnson writes. But his proposed cuts could eliminate several local programs that rely on federal funding, such as the the Boys and Girls Club, the Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival’s after-school arts program, which relies on National Endowment for the Arts grants that Trump wants to eliminate, and the Farm Service Center, "which supports 1,200 local producers and is staffed with employees whose positions were targeted in the budget."

"Durant has already undergone years of state budget cuts, as Oklahoma has been unable to balance its increasing costs with declines in the oil industry, tax cuts and generous corporate tax credits," Johnson writes. "That has made federal funds even more vital to the city, especially for programs that serve the poor and working class."

Durant City Manager Tim Rundel, who grew up in poverty in northwest Arkansas, told Johnson, “It’s very easy to look at a laundry list of things that exist and say, ‘Cut, cut, cut, cut,’ and say, ‘Well, this is wasteful spending’ without really understanding the true impact. The bottom line is a lot of our citizens depend on those programs.”

Jackie Garner, a bookkeeper at the senior center, whose management company receives $35,000 each year from the National and Community Service, which Trump wants to eliminate, told Johnson, “At my house, if we don’t have that money, we don’t have that money. We don’t go out and spend money that we don’t have. We try to find alternative ways to make the things that are important happen. I expect the government to do the same. It’s our tax dollars. We need to be good stewards.”

That has left many local residents confused, mainly because they support most of Trump's views, such as stricter immigration laws, forcing manufacturers to stay in the U.S. and more military funding, but not at the expense of local programs, Johnson writes. Still, many residents in Durant continue to support Trump, while others have adopted a wait-and-see attitude.

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