If Donald Trump really cared about creating jobs and strengthening the economy he would not be trying to gut this small-but-critical program.
It’s been around since 1966, and it has greatly benefited coastal regions by generating tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars for the American economy every year while improving the safety and protection of our coastlines. And now it’s being threatened by Trump.
The Sea Grant program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. The $73 million in funding helps 3,000 scientists around the country improve water quality, advise the fishing industry to keep it sustainable, and keep an eye on sea-level rise that could drown coastal cities.
The program has been instrumental in the economic development of coastal regions. According to NOAA, the tiny program generated $575 million in economic development and more than 20,000 jobs in 2015 alone. In other words, this program has been a worthwhile investment for the government that has resulted in a huge return for the American people. If Trump intends to continue to try to run the government like a business, gutting this program would be a terrible business decision.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that he will create jobs in America. But cutting this program would do the exact opposite. It would also endanger every person who works and lives on or near a coastline.
Climate change has caused sea levels to rise in recent years and the Sea Grant program helps scientists predict which parts of our coastlines need to prepare to prevent disaster.
Slashing the program would make that work more difficult.
And Trump’s reason for considering the elimination of the program is galling. He wants to cut it and use the money to pay for an even more bloated defense budget, which is already so big that even if we cut it in half American would still spend more on the military than any other nation on Earth.
In reaction to Trump’s plan, Sea Grant directors around the country expressed horror.
“My initial reaction was horror and disgust,” California Sea Grant Director Jim Eckman said. “I think we’re facing a much graver crisis that we’re going to have to deal with.”
“I have to assume there are some wise people in our Congress who see the flaw,” Maine Sea Grant Director Paul Anderson said of Trump’s plan. “Mr. Trump is setting up for a political battle.”
Indeed, the last time a Republican president targeted Sea Grant there was a strong backlash in Congress because the program does so much that benefits coastal economies and the environment. In 1981, Congress backed the Sea Grant program as Ronald Reagan sought to kill it. He backed down after an analysis showed that the 14 year, $270 million investment in the program by the government yielded a return of over $3 billion. As noted earlier, in 2015 the program created 20,000 jobs and over half a billion dollars in economic development. That’s a single year of what this program has done. It’s one of the most successful and beneficial government programs ever created and now Trump wants to kill it.
Last time I checked, there are several conservative states that have coastlines and those states have also greatly benefited from the Sea Grant program. So Trump is not just hurting more liberal states by gutting this program. He is hurting people who voted for him and Republicans.
Featured image via Jim Lo – Pool/Getty Images