Feb 15, 2018

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Statement: Our take on Trump’s budget

by | Feb 15, 2018

President Donald Trump’s potentially disastrous $4.1 trillion budget yet again reveals his administration’s disdain, disrespect and distrust for hard-working Americans struggling to make ends meet.

On Monday, Trump released a budget that would balloon the federal deficit while ruthlessly slashing hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid, SNAP, financial assistance for those in need, housing assistance and programs that support people with disabilities. This comes on the heels of a just-passed $1.4 trillion “tax reform” package that mostly favors the wealthiest Americans and corporations. Trump’s budget contains several dangerous ideas that should alarm anyone who cares about poverty, America’s shrinking middle class and the general health and well-being of our country.

For an administration that purportedly wants to empower Americans to make their own choices with health care and education, the budget allows the government to effectively micromanage the kind of food low-income people bring to the table. One telling example: Under Trump’s proposal, SNAP recipients would get about half of their benefits in the form of a “USDA Foods package,” consisting of “shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit and vegetables.” These boxes would not include fresh fruits or vegetables. Currently, SNAP beneficiaries get money loaded onto an EBT card they can use to buy what they want as long as it falls within the guidelines. The proposal is estimated to reduce the overall cost of the SNAP program by $129 billion over 10 years. Along with demeaning and insulting SNAP recipients by restricting their ability to buy their own food (while denying them many basic nutritious needs), this concept undermines the efficiency of SNAP and its role in putting food on the table and supporting local economies.

Though most pundits concur that Trump’s budget is “dead on arrival” in Congress, last year we warned that Congress would need to make big cuts to shrink the enormous federal deficit that has been further inflated by the recently passed tax bill. While Congress may not slash so-called entitlement programs to the extreme that Trump proposes, his budget sets the funding bar for such programs dangerously low. Trump’s continued assault diminishes support for human service programs like SNAP, while stigmatizing the people who use them. As our national partners at CLASP pointed out earlier in the week, 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.

Regardless whether the budget has a realistic chance of passage in its current form, we urge everyone to keep watch on Congress and be ready to call and write their elected officials whenever they are considering fiscal policies that would devastate millions of Americans and leave them worse off than they are now. Keep up with developments on the budget through the Coalition of Human Needs website.

-By Bob Mook

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