Spotlight Exclusives

Poverty Programs on the Cutting Block?

Spotlight Staff Spotlight Staff, posted on

Federal programs that support low-income Americans are in danger of dramatic cuts in the 2018 budget, according to a series of recently published reports.

Articles in Politico and Roll Call indicate House Republicans are considering proposals that would result in deep reductions in the nation’s safety net in order to pay for President Trump’s tax reforms, U.S.-Mexico border wall, and dramatically increased infrastructure spending. The White House thus far has ruled out any reforms to entitlements such as Medicare or Social Security to find savings, though the American Health Care Act recently passed by the House includes about $800 billion in Medicaid cuts.

Politico reports that the House Budget Committee is considering a $400 billion package of cuts for the 2018 budget, primarily from programs such as “food stamps, welfare, income assistance for the disabled and perhaps even veteran’s benefits.”

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK.) acknowledged to Politico that the Budget Committee is determined to focus on moving toward a balanced federal budget. “The Budget Committee is trying to force the entire conference and committees of jurisdiction to focus on ways to bring down this deficit,” Cole said. Final details of the budget bill aren’t expected until at least next month.

Key players on any proposed safety net cuts would be new House Budget Chair Diane Black (R-TN); House Ways and Means Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX); and Energy and Commerce Chair Greg Walden (R-OR).

Meanwhile, Roll Call reported that members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus are considering “a push for broader reconciliation authority in the upcoming 2018 budget resolution that would allow Republicans to pursue policies beyond a tax code overhaul.” This action could eventually give House Republicans more latitude to push for safety net cuts in other committees beyond Ways and Means.

One idea floated to Roll Call by Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows (R-NC) was to try to include language that would allow pertinent committees to make reductions in the welfare system.

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