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Trump's budget would hurt the people he promised to help, rural innovators


Trump's budget would hurt the people he promised to help, rural innovators

WATCH:  In his federal budget blueprint, President Trump proposed eliminating 19 different federal agencies. Trump's plan to eliminate the Appalachian Regional Commission would hurt people in poor, rural communities who largely supported Trump in the election. 

What is ARC? 

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) was established by an act of Congress in 1965. The agency gives federal grant money to projects in 13 Appalachian states to help spur economic growth and competition in distressed rural communities where jobs are scarce. 

Last year, Congress appropriated $146 million for ARC, and between October 2015 and January 2016 the agency estimates it has funneled $175.7 million into 662 projects. 

Who does it help? 

ARC estimates those investments have been matched by more than $257.4 million and will attract another $443.3 million in private investments.

The programs funded by ARC create more than 23,670 jobs and help to train more than 49,000 students and workers, according to the agency's website

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ARC helped Greg Crews

Greg Crews is one of those people. Crews was tired of always having to buy new feed buckets for his horses at his farm in Huntington, West Virginia after his kept constantly breaking.

He came up with the idea for a more durable bucket that would attach to any fence, but he wasn't able to get his idea off the ground. 

Crews made his idea a reality with help from TEN50, a business accelerator program which gets funding from ARC. 

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When asked where his product would be without the TEN50 and the ARC's help, Crews said "It would be nowhere. I can tell you I tried." 

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But if it were up to Trump, programs like TEN50 wouldn't get any federal funding, and that would hurt rural innovators like Crews. 

"You know, entrepreneurship and making America great again, without the ability to develop an idea and without the funding available its just not going to happen. I think it would be extremely sad.

Crews said he was disappointed by the budget proposal. He voted for Trump in the election because he thought the brash businessman would be able to help rural economies like Huntington.

"I fully supported Donald Trump. I felt like we needed change," Crews said. "I hope that this is not what change is." 

Why cut ARC? 

Fiscal conservatives say taxpayers shouldn't be footing the bill for ARC and other economic subsidies like it. 

"I think Americans want more than just a handout for thirteen individual states in a certain region," said Michael Sargent a policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, which is largely credited for providing the blueprint for Trump's budget proposal. 

"You’re taking taxpayer money away from other people across the nation, people in places like Detroit that are in no better shape and using it to boost arts and crafts," Sargent said. 

He argued that Trump's plans to slash federal business regulations and increase investments in infrastructure could ultimately bring more jobs to the communities that ARC is currently investing in. 

But Crews says the people in his community might not be able to wait that long for new jobs and opportunities. 

"I feel sad for young people that would want to stay here that would want to raise their family here. I don’t think they have hope," he said. 

Crews argued that people who have been helped by ARC programs aren't looking for a handout, they just want to stay and work in their hometowns. 

"If we’re going to help the economy, help people stay here in this area, create jobs this program is just there’s just no way that you could even think of cutting a program like this," Crews said. 

It's up to Congress 

Trump's budget proposal is just that, a proposal. Congress gets the final say on the federal budget and it's unlikely lawmakers will vote to defund an agency that helps voters in their districts. 

In a statement Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Kentucky), a Trump supporter, called Trump's proposal "draconian, careless and counterproductive."

Rogers said that ARC in particular has had strong support in Congress "because of its proven ability to help reduce poverty rates and extend basic necessities to communities across the Appalachian region." 

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