Trump shamed into 'overriding' his own decision to gut Special Olympics


Well, that's embarrassing.

Now that Americans are outraged over the Trump administration's proposal to completely eliminate federal funding for the Special Olympics, Trump is swooping in to pretend he's really the one saving the day.

"I just authorized the funding of the Special Olympics," Trump told reporters Thursday at the White House. "I heard about it this morning. I have overridden my people. We're funding the Special Olympics.

There are two big problems with this short statement.

First, Trump can't "authorize" funding; that's up to Congress. His budget proposal is just that — a proposal, a suggestion. The Special Olympics is still being funded as of now, and it was never going to lose funding unless Congress went along with Trump's cruel plan, which even Republicans have said they wouldn't do.

Second, and perhaps even more embarrassing for Trump: The cuts are part of his own budget proposal. He's not "overriding" anybody but himself by changing it — and if he really did just find out about it this morning, that means he never knew what his own policy was in the first place.

It's true that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has taken most of the heat this week for this particularly cruel item in Trump's cruel budget proposal.

DeVos deserves the criticism; after all, the proposed funding cuts are in her department. She's also the one who chose to repeatedly defend cutting Special Olympics funds, with increasingly absurd defenses that included blaming the media for accurately quoting her.

But she's also not the only one to blame. The Department of Education budget is part of Trump's overall budget request to Congress — which is not just a request, but also an official statement on budget priorities for the entire Trump administration.

Knowing Trump, he either didn't bother to review everything in his budget — in which case, the cuts he signed off on really would have come as a surprise to him — or he did know about them, and is only pretending he didn't now that it's clearly unpopular.

Either way, the buck stops with Trump on this. And if he really wanted to save the government the mere $17 million that it spends on fulfilling the dreams of young athletes with disabilities, he could just take five fewer trips to Mar-a-Lago.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.