The Trump Administration today released its FY 2018 budget, calling it “A New Foundation for American Greatness.” Early analysis of the budget, however, shows that it’s anything but. The budget calls for sweeping cuts to domestic programs that threaten the health and economic security of millions of women and their families. It also robs the poor of basic assistance in order to line the pockets of the wealthiest Americans through tax breaks outlined in Trump’s previously released tax proposal.
Previewing the budget with reporters yesterday, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director Mick Mulvaney remarked, “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.”
Mulvaney’s comment, perhaps inadvertently, revealed one of the central problems with the entire Trump Administration: its dogged insistence on making millions of people invisible.
Taxpayers rely on Medicaid. Taxpayers rely on Planned Parenthood. Taxpayers rely on the Legal Services Corporation, and student loan assistance programs, and environmental programs, and on and on. But that wasn’t the real message. Mulvaney’s real message was that anyone who can be perceived as needing assistance must be an undeserving freeloader. It is a narrow, callous vision of American greatness.
Here are just a few of the low-lights from the Trump Budget:
Dangerously Cutting Medicaid
The Trump Budget assumes the passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), also known as TrumpCare. As such, it includes around $880 billion of cuts to the Medicaid program over the next 10 years by ending funding to allow expanded eligibility for Medicaid and setting a cap on federal Medicaid funds to the states.
In his comments on Tuesday, however, Mulvaney suggested that the budget actually cuts Medicaid by over $1.4 trillion through an additional $610 billion cut on top of the $880 billion.
These cuts would be devastating to millions of people who rely on Medicaid for their health needs, including children, people with disabilities, seniors, and pregnant women. The majority of Medicaid recipients are women, and women of color disproportionately rely on Medicaid for health coverage. One in five women of reproductive age receive Medicaid, and one in five senior women use Medicaid to supplement their Medicare coverage.
Cuts to the program would force states to cut benefits and/or restrict eligibility for the program. Eleven million people gained health coverage through the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion. TrumpCare puts tens of millions at risk of losing healthcare. Financial constraints on the Medicaid program, including capping federal funds, could lead to more hospital closures, especially in rural areas, and make it more difficult for states to response to health emergencies, like a Zika outbreak. Additional cuts would only put more strain on the system.
Threatening Women’s Health by Defunding Planned Parenthood
For the first time in history, the President’s budget singles out an individual health care provider—Planned Parenthood—for cuts, specifically prohibiting the organization from receiving funds through Medicaid or any other program funded through Congress’s annual Labor-HHS appropriations bill.
That means Planned Parenthood would be barred from receiving Title X family planning funds and would be prevented from participating in Zika prevention programs, HIV prevention programs, the CDC National Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening program, and maternal and child health programs. The healthcare provider would also be ineligible for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grants, STD and infertility prevention grants, and more.
This unprecedented attack on Planned Parenthood is really an attack on millions of women, students, and transgender individuals who would lose access to reproductive healthcare, including birth control, cancer screenings, and STD counseling and treatment. In many areas, there is no other health provider who can absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients.
Making College Less Affordable
Gone are the days of debating free public college. The Trump Administration not only wants students to pay, but they want to charge them more interest. Trump’s budget would eliminate federally subsidized student loans and cut more than $700 million from the Perkins loans program, making college less affordable for students and adding to the student debt burden. In addition, the budget would eliminate the public service loan forgiveness program, which forgives the student loan debt of individuals who have worked in public service jobs for 10 years—people like teachers, nurses, police officers, and public defenders.
If that weren’t enough, the Trump Budget would also cut funding for college work-study programs in half, making it even more difficult to pay for that college degree and increasing reliance on student loans.
Starving the Poor and Making it More Difficult to Make Ends Meet
The Trump Budget proposes cutting around $192 billion in nutritional assistance, a 25 percent cut to the program, and narrowing eligibility for food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The food assistance program helps feed over 40 million people a year. Under Trump’s proposal, millions would be forced off of the program.
In addition to the cuts to food assistance, the Trump Budget proposes cutting Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) by $15.6 billion and bars certain families from collecting the child care tax credit or the earned-income tax credit.
The budget also targets people with disabilities, proposing to cut $72 billion in disability benefits by, at least in part, making it more difficult for people to access Social Security disability benefits.
Retirees are also not safe. The Trump Budget proposed cutting $63 billion in retirement benefits to federal workers.
Building a Politically-Motivated, Unnecessary Border Wall
Even as the Trump Budget would squeeze the poor, it still manages to find more than $2.6 billion for border security, including $1.6 billion for the border wall with Mexico. The wall, a campaign promise wrapped in dangerous rhetoric about Mexican immigrants, is costly, unnecessary and impractical. The $1.6 billion request would not even begin to cover the costs of such a project. According to news reports, that request would fund only a few dozen miles. Construction of a border wall would likely run into the tens of billions of dollars, and there is no sign that Mexico would pay any of these costs, despite Trump’s many assertions on the campaign trail.
In addition to this $2.6 billion, the Administration is requesting additional funds for recruiting, hiring and training new immigration agents.
Endangering Clean Air and Water
As expected, the Trump Budget makes deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), cutting the EPA by 31 percent for 2018, the largest proposed cut to any federal agency in the current proposal. In addition, the EPA is looking at a 2 percent cut each year after 2018 for the next 10 years.
The magnitude of the EPA cut means less money for enforcement of environmental regulations as well as less money for research and programs focusing on climate change. In addition, the Trump Budget eliminates the EPA’s lead risk-reduction program, cut funding for the Superfund cleanup program to address the nation’s most severely polluted sites, and slash by around $500 million federal grants that allow states to tackle local environmental problems to ensure air and water quality.
Media Resources: The Hill 5/23/17; Washington Post 5/23/17, 5/17/17; ABC News 5/22/17; Huffington 5/22/17; NPR 5/22/17; New York Times 5/22/17; Slate 5/17/17