While most of the rest of the nation is talking about how unaffordable a college education has become, leave it to Team Trump to pick the pockets of one of the few longstanding programs around to help deal with it.
Under a budget amendment sent to Congress Monday evening, the administration would use an additional $1.9 billion in surplus Pell Grant money to fund other budget priorities, including an infusion of new cash for NASA “so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!” President Donald Trump tweeted.
The Pell Grant program is currently running a surplus of about $9 billion due to declining applications for that money. Rather than do something about that, in a now freakishly expensive higher education environment in which $9 billion could be put to damn good use, the Trump approach of “what if we just take that money, because reasons” was surely going to surface sooner or later. Under the administration’s proposal, $3.9 billion would be siphoned off to other “priorities,” including $1.6 billion toward Donald Trump’s new demand that NASA return astronauts to the moon by the end of his next would-be presidential term.
(The proposal also reverses Trump’s proposal to zero out federal Special Olympics funding, which Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos got rightly and predictably hammered over. Trump, of course, has been bragging about the reversal.)
Mind you, spending money on NASA is a good thing. Shooting rockets at things continues to be the one and only scientific endeavor that can gain even passing support from New Republicanism, at least for now, and if the Trump “administration” has taught us anything it is that mankind had apparently better learn to survive in desolate deadly hellscapes sooner rather than later.
But it’s going to be a problem if we no longer have engineers capable of designing those rockets, though. Maybe putting the next generation through college ought to be a priority of its own.