Trump Hands the Bill for Millionaires’ Tax Cuts to Everyday Americans

This statement can be attributed to Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Washington, D.C., February 12, 2018—In a continuation of the administration’s assaults on hard-working, low-income people, President Trump today announced his fiscal year 2019 (FY19) budget proposal. As expected, Trump proposes to finance the recent massive federal tax cuts for millionaires and corporations by making cruel and devastating cuts to programs that support children, families, and people of modest means. As bad as this enormous federal disinvestment in America’s future is, it could echo across the country by destabilizing state and local budgets, leading to cuts in basic services at the community level, as well.

Trump proposes ruthless cuts in virtually every program that helps reduce poverty and support ordinary working Americans—health coverage through Medicaid, nutrition assistance, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, housing assistance, and support for people with disabilities. Moreover, the budget seeks to add funding for both a border wall and an enforcement operation that is already terrorizing immigrant families and pushing them further into the shadows.

Despite the failure of multiple efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) last year that would have stripped health care away from millions, the president won’t quit his assault on health coverage for those most likely to need it. And the cuts proposed in this budget are on top of other Congressional and administration actions to weaken the health care law by repealing the ACA’s individual mandate and making administrative changes—like adding paperwork burden through so-called work requirements—that make it harder to get and keep Medicaid coverage.

The Trump Administration has also taken aim at immigrants through deeply damaging executive orders, divisive rhetoric, repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and other actions that are sowing fear in immigrant communities.

Deep cuts in key programs

Trump’s FY19 budget proposal slashes or eliminates a wide range of crucial programs that help stabilize low-income families. For example, it would cause millions of Americans to become uninsured and would significantly cut funding for Medicaid under the guise of "state flexibility" and "modernization." The president continues to push for repealing and replacing the ACA, even after Congressional attempts failed due to overwhelming opposition from the American public. Beyond the ACA, the President's budget jeopardizes Medicaid coverage for the nation's most vulnerable populations. The proposal would restructure Medicaid’s financing structure and allow states to impose barriers to care—putting health care at risk for our nation's seniors, children and families, persons with disabilities, and hard-working Americans struggling to make ends meet.

Proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) would cut off access for millions of individuals and families. Many of these proposals are recycled from last year’s budget. These truly terrible ideas range from further restricting SNAP access for non-disabled adults without children, to eliminating options that allow states to respond to local economic conditions. Overall suggested cuts to the program are a staggering $213 billion over 10 years, or roughly 30 percent of what is currently spent. And a proposal to turn SNAP into a food box commodity distribution program undermines the efficiency of SNAP and its role in putting food on the table and supporting local economies.

Short-sighted cuts run counter to our national interest

These budget proposals are truly short-sighted, as they harm vital programs that strengthen our nation’s future by helping today’s children, youth, and adults get a secure start in life, get an education, and move up on the job through postsecondary education and job training. The budget ignores research showing the benefits to low-income families and workers of public investments such as after-school programs, postsecondary education and skills training for youth and adults, and basic supports like health, nutrition, and housing.

Notably, the proposal makes significant cuts to postsecondary student aid programs—like federal work-study, Pell grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, and subsidized loans—that are crucial for helping low-income students on their path to economic security. It also eliminates the forgiveness of student debt by those who work for years in public service careers. Trump’s budget proposal also wastes money in all the wrong places, seeking to criminalize communities of color, with harmful spending proposals that reverse progress—much of it bipartisan—on criminal justice reforms and further expand immigration enforcement measures that terrorize immigrant communities.

Ripple effects would harm states and cities

The budget’s proposed cuts would be a historic withdrawal by the federal government from its long-standing commitment to state and local governments. Federal reductions of hundreds of billions of dollars to Medicaid, SNAP, and other programs would destabilize state and local budgets across the country. In turn, because states are required to balance their budgets, an enormous hole in their budgets would force them to make further cuts to their core areas of investment, including K-12 education, higher education, and health.

Parental leave proposal offers little to low-income families

The budget recycles the same problematic paid parental leave program proposed in the FY 2018 budget that would cut funds from the already-fragile Unemployment Insurance (UI) system to pay for this new program—essentially pitting the needs of working parents against the needs of unemployed workers. Furthermore, if states use their UI wage replacement rates, which on average are less than 50 percent of most workers’ wages, many low-wage workers would be unable to make ends meet while on leave. Additionally, by only limiting the policy to paid parental leave, this program fails to recognize that over 70 percent of the leaves workers currently take are to help care for a seriously ill family member or for their own serious illness

CLASP urges the House and Senate to reject the proposals in Trump’s budget. The budget reflects a deeply wrong-headed and cynical view that everyday Americans should pay with their health care, nutrition, and educational opportunities for the trillion-dollar tax cut to corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

Instead, Congress should protect and support the core structure of highly effective federal programs such as Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, and SNAP, along with the crucial enforcement roles that protect low-wage workers, as well as expand currently underfunded federal investments for programs and services that support low-income children, youth, families and individuals. Our nation’s future depends on it.

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