The Trump Budget

Originally published at Third and State.  

President Trump’s budget is a triple betrayal of his campaign promises, of working people in Pennsylvania and around the country, and of a uniquely-American economic order that has created the shared prosperity that America once enjoyed and should enjoy again.

The President is, first, betraying his promise not to cut Medicaid, Social Security, and the social safety net, that is, programs relied on by those left behind in a changing economy.

In doing so he is, second, betraying the promise that America has made to working people to ensure that they have the important assistance to meet basic living standards: food on the table, a roof over their heads, and access to health care that millions of Pennsylvanians rely on. The budget proposal calls for a huge reduction in these vital programs in order to give massive tax breaks to the wealthy and powerful. It would also shift massive costs to Pennsylvania at a time when our state is already struggling to meet the needs for education, transportation and other services Pennsylvanians need.

For example, the President’s budget would:

  • Slash the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) by $193 billion over ten years targeting the elderly, working families, and workers struggling to find a job and shifting the cost of more than $100 billion of SNAP benefits, a long time federal responsibility, to states.
  • Cut $600 billion from Medicaid over ten years on top of the already-massive cuts in Medicaid and subsidies for private coverage included in the House-passed bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act that President Trump supports and incorporates into his budget. These additional cuts almost certainly would further increase the number of uninsured Pennsylvanians and would shift additional, significant Medicaid costs to Pennsylvania on top of the $18 billion cost shift in the House health bill.
  • Cut disability programs by $72 billion, including Social Security Disability Insurance, for workers with disabilities and their families, and Supplemental Security Income, which provides income assistance to poor individuals, including children with disabilities. This breaks the President’s promise not to cut Social Security.

And, third, the President is betraying the economic model that combines public investment and private initiative to create broadly shared prosperity. His budget calls for deep cuts in investments that expand opportunity and spur long-term economic growth, from job training to education to scientific research. The President cuts funding for this part of the budget by $54 billion in 2018 alone. The proposed cuts grow far deeper over the decade – the President is proposing for this part of the budget to be cut by more than 40 percent as compared to 2017 after adjusting for inflation. These cuts would take funding for public investments in prosperity to its lowest level as a share of the economy since the Hoover Administration.

At the same time, the President is proposing massive tax cuts, largely for the wealthy and corporations, which would likely cost several trillion dollars over the coming decade if honestly measured. The budget relies on unrealistic economic assumptions, gimmicks, and huge ‘magic asterisks’ to hide the fact that the President’s tax cuts would dramatically increase deficits and debt.

As Congress prepares to advance its own budget plans, we call on the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation, both Democrats and Republicans, to not just oppose the Trump budget, but oppose any Congressional budget plan that follows the same framework. They must oppose cuts to assistance that helps millions of Americans achieve a basic living standard. They must oppose cuts to investments in long-run economic growth and basic public services. And, they must oppose massive tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest.

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