The American Psychological Association expressed serious concerns regarding deep cuts in the president’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget that the organization says will curtail advances in research and education while threatening the health, well-being and competitiveness of our nation.
“The APA is strongly opposed to the harsh cuts to vital domestic programs in the administration’s budget blueprint,” said APA President Antonio Puente, PhD. “These proposed cuts would severely limit the federal investment in science, health, education and human service programs. We urge Congress to reject the administration’s budget.”
The proposed budget calls for a $54 billion increase in defense and homeland security spending (approximately 10 percent) for fiscal year 2018 with corresponding cuts to domestic programs. With a few exceptions, like veterans’ health care, most domestic programs would be cut substantially. These drastic cuts to education, health, safety net programs and science would undermine the research pipeline, workforce and supports for underserved populations and communities that are most at risk, according to the APA.
If enacted, the Trump administration’s “skinny budget” released yesterday would cut research at the National Institutes of Health by a historically unprecedented 18 percent ($6 billion), slash health professions funding by 77 percent ($403 million) and reduce programs at the Department of Education by 14 percent and the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 13.2 percent.
“Behavioral research is critical to NIH’s mission. For example, the National Academy of Medicine recently reaffirmed that over 50 percent of premature mortality in the U.S. is due to behaviors such as smoking, sedentary lifestyle and alcohol and other drug consumption,” said Puente. “Understanding how best to encourage behavior change and maintaining that change over time is at the heart of much research on diabetes, cancer prevention, healthy aging and addiction. If our nation is to continue to accelerate the development of life-changing cures, pioneering treatments and innovative prevention strategies, it is essential to sustain predictable increases in the NIH budget.”
The APA also expressed its opposition to the devastating 77 percent cut in the Health Resources and Services Administration’s health professions training programs, which could jeopardize funding for the Graduate Psychology Education Program that is vital to developing a competent psychology workforce and improving access to integrated care for those in rural and underserved areas.
Health and safety net programs would also be harmed by the cuts in this budget, according to the APA. The 18.9 percent cut in the Department of Health and Human Services would put at risk the Title X family planning program, support for caregivers, Minority Fellowship Program, Head Start and other programs. The proposed $200 million reduction in the Department of Agriculture’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children would deprive low-income pregnant or breastfeeding women and infants of desperately needed food and health care referrals.
Cuts to the Department of Education target needed programs including afterschool, academic and cultural enrichment programs and reduce support for programs designed to increase access to higher education for low-income, first-generation students, according to the APA.
Additionally, the 13.2 percent cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development would likely restrict services for homeless persons, many of whom suffer from untreated mental disorders.
“The extreme positions advocated in this budget should serve as an impetus for psychologists and everyone concerned about science, health, education and human welfare to weigh in now with their members of Congress to oppose the large domestic cuts that would adversely impact the ability of scientists, educators and clinicians to create and communicate knowledge and improve people’s lives” said Puente.