Moving to cut domestic spending a month into his presidency, Donald Trump may be turning to an unlikely candidate to achieve savings: The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
The New York Times reports that the drug control office may be among several organizations targeted for elimination, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supplies content to PBS and NPR, the AmeriCorps volunteer program, and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities.
Former congressman Mick Mulvaney was confirmed as Trump’s budget director last week, clearing the way for work to proceed on the proposed budget. Trump has said that he intends to cut domestic spending in order to increase spending on defense and infrastructure.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy coordinates federal efforts to reduce drug use and drug trafficking. The director, often called the “drug czar,” is the president’s point person on national drug policy. The office directs federal money to local communities that experience high volumes of drug sales and runs a national media campaign aimed at discouraging young people from using drugs.
It’s a little difficult to discern what the office is up to these days; its website was wiped clean when Trump took office and hasn’t been replaced since. (Records of President Obama’s office of drug control policy are preserved on an external archive site.)
With all the turmoil over other nominees, Trump hasn’t publicly named a potential “drug czar” yet; StatNews.com reports that former New Hampshire Rep. Frank Guinta has expressed interest in the position.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the Trump administration might seek to eliminate both the office and the funding it distributes to state and local agencies. The grants totaled about $25.5 billion dollars in 2013, while the office’s budget was about $340 million. Both figures represent fairly small portions of the total federal budget, which was about $3.8 trillion in 2015.
Steve Bell, a former Senate budget staffer, said that the targeted programs “don’t amount to a hill of beans” in the context of the total budget.
“I think it’s an important endeavor to try to get rid of things that are unnecessary,” said Stephen Moore, an economist for the Heritage Foundation. “The American public has a lot of contempt for how government is run in Washington, in no small part because there is so much waste.”