From Daniel Sheehan, AFOP Executive Director
November 15, 2016
In a surprise to many pollsters and pundits, and much of the general public, businessman Donald J. Trump on November 8 won the 2016 presidential election and is now moving forward with this transition team as president-elect to set up a new government. AFOP wishes him and the new administration well in their efforts to work for the public good in behalf of all in this great nation of ours.
Many in the anti-poverty community are understandably worried about what a Trump Administration will mean for their work in supporting the very poorest among us, given some of the president-elect’s more strident rhetoric on the campaign trail. With the White House, United States Senate, and United States House of Representatives now under Republican control for the first time in more than a decade, these service-providers are concerned that Congress, with the White House’s blessing, will make drastic cuts in domestic spending to pay for large increases in defense. While that remains to be seen, these anti-poverty groups have vowed to defend the programs and the funding they feel are the very fabric of the nation’s safety net.
In regard to the highly successful and critically needed National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP), there is really no telling at this point what the change in administrations will mean going forward. While it is true that NFJP, year in and year out, exceeds the United States Department of Labor’s national program performance goals, providing life-changing training and related assistance to some of the hardest to reach and hardest to serve in America, and while it is also true that the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act lengthened the NFJP grant term to four years, one must understand that these new, longer grant awards are subject to the future availability of appropriated funds. NFJP’s fiscal year 2016 appropriations are in place through June 30, 2017, but Congress has not yet finalized fiscal year 2017 spending, and now may not until after President-elect Trump’s inauguration. Should the president-elect seek to eliminate NFJP funding, we at the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP), the non-profit organizations and state entities that deliver NFJP services to migrant and seasonal farmworkers, must make a concerted effort to educate policymakers about the importance of the program, its tremendous reach throughout the country, and why it is necessary to sustain the nation’s commitment to assisting farmworkers and their families earn more stable and secure employment, both inside and outside of agriculture. NFJP service-providers have mounted such an effort before, and are ready to do so again.
A request by the new administration to zero out NFJP is far from a given, however. The president-elect has expressed support for the idea of job training for individuals to meet the unmet demand of employers for qualified workers. Also, the president-elect, who prides himself on having created thousands of jobs as a businessman, has sworn to be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created.” During a September campaign speech, he said he has a plan to add 25 million jobs to the market over the next 10 years. While he included few specifics at the time, he did say he would replace “bureaucrats who ‘only know how to kill jobs’ with ‘jobs-creation experts.’” In addition, the idea of generating and filling more jobs shares bipartisan support. According to the Gallup’s Election Benchmark Survey, 88 percent of Democrat-leaning voters and 80 percent of Republican-leaning voters call the issue of above average importance, a fact that both sides of the aisle seem to appreciate.
Lastly, we can be heartened by the fact that the president-elect sounded a unifying tone in his victory speech in the early morning hours of November 9. It is my very real hope that, with the election now behind us, the president-elect is sincere in his remarks.
“Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division, we have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say, it is time for us to come together as one united people,” Trump said. “I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me.”
“For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I’m reaching out to you,” Trump said. “For your guidance and your help, so that we can work together and unify our great country.”
In closing, please take time to review an easy-to-read primer on how the federal budget process works, linked here, as produced by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. It provides all the necessary information needed to understand and follow the federal budget process during what is certain to be a changed and challenging year.