Trump Budget Would Drastically Cut Safety Net
President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget would make historic cuts to the nation’s safety net while dramatically boosting spending on the military and border security, including a proposed $1.6 billion to begin building a wall on the US-Mexico border.
Congress is not expected to support many of the president’s proposals, but the potential $1 trillion in reductions over ten years to programs that support low-income Americans nonetheless alarmed many anti-poverty activists and Democratic members of Congress.
“This disturbing budget would turn the United States into a coarser nation, making life harder for most of those struggling to get by but more luxurious for those at the very top,” said Robert Greenstein, president of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. “Most Americans do not seek a new Gilded Age.”
“Mr. President – Slashing Planned Parenthood & social safety net to give wealthy huge tax breaks isn’t ‘America First’ – it’s ‘Me First,’” tweeted Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D).
The administration insisted that the budget aims to spend tax dollars wisely and avoid waste and government inefficiency. “This is, I think, the first time in a long time that an administration has written a budget through the eyes of the people who are actually paying the taxes,” White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters on Monday.
The $4.1 trillion budget’s proposed cuts include:
- Reducing Medicaid outlays by $600 billion over 10 years.
- Cutting $192 billion from nutrition programs and $272 billion total from social welfare programs.
- Reducing funding for programs that supply disability benefits by $72 billion.
- Eliminating federal subsidies for student loans, saving a projected $143 billion.
- Eliminating the $3 billion Community Block Grant program as part of a $6 billion reduction in housing programs.
- Achieving $40 billion in savings by taking additional steps to prevent undocumented immigrants from claiming the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit.
The plan also includes $200 billion over a decade as a down payment on infrastructure investment, and $19 billion to establish a paid parental leave program that is the pet project of Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and a White House advisor.
Some conservative budget analysts praised the president’s proposal. “The president’s budget seeks to balance in no more than 10 years,” said Romina Boccia, Deputy Director of the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies and the Grover M. Hermann fellow in federal budgetary affairs at the Heritage Foundation. “This is a laudable and important goal that fiscal conservatives should keep their eye on. The budget does this in part with sensible mandatory spending reforms to Medicaid, welfare and disability programs.”
But some Republicans on Capitol Hill feared the impact on their constituents—particularly those from poorer parts of the nation, including areas that strongly supported Trump in last year’s election. “It’s a problem—it’s a big problem,” Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), the chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee, said to The Washington Post. “I’ve got one of the poorest districts in the country with lots of Medicaid recipients as well as other programs. …The cuts are draconian.”
Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R) noted that budgets submitted by most presidents are radically changed by Congress and are essentially “dead on arrival.” Asked if that prospect might also apply to Trump’s budget he told reporters: “I think it may find a similar fate.”