Center for Global Policy Solutions: Statement Opposing President Donald Trump's 2018 Budget

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The budget demonizes the poor, marginalizes underserved populations, undermines productivity, and destroys the social safety net

In its present form, this budget will further marginalize low-, moderate-, and middle-income families—especially hitting women, children, the disabled, and people of color, particularly in areas of health, wealth, and education.

STATEMENT OPPOSING PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’S 2018 BUDGET

The Center for Global Policy Solutions is vehemently opposed to Donald Trump’s budget, “A New Foundation for American Greatness—President's Budget FY 2018,” because it is an old formula for despair that inspires fear, demonizes the poor, marginalizes underserved populations, undermines productivity, and destroys the social safety net needed by hardworking but too-often underpaid Americans.

For too long we have allowed policies and labor market practices that force contract and gig workers, part time workers, and low-paid full time workers to rely on public support in order to make ends meet. This mean-spirited budget will further erode their financial stability, health and wellbeing by reducing their ability to lean on these programs in times of need.

To be clear, this unconscionable budget proposal is one that steals from working and middle class Americans by diverting funds from social insurance programs they have paid into to give to the wealthy through tax cuts. Conservative policymakers have designed this budget with the stated intention of advancing welfare reform, but in actuality they are dismantling the social contract that underpins our democracy, exacerbating economic inequality and practicing the politics of plutocracy in the process.

Finally, this budget, and the justifications Administration officials have given for it, is a mean-spirited and immoral attempt to demonize America’s poor. To portray families in need as underserving is to betray America’s 20th century commitment to ensure a living standard beneath which no American citizen should fall and to invest in the success of all its citizens. This budget sends a strong signal that the global leadership that the U.S. has enjoyed for almost a century is in decline. For a world leader that cannot ensure the living standard of its citizens is a nation that cannot lead the world.

In its present form, this budget will further marginalize low-, moderate-, and middle-income families—especially hitting women, children, the disabled, and people of color, particularly in areas of health, wealth, and education.

HEALTH
Denying Access to Life-Saving Healthcare

Trump’s budget is predicated on the dangerous assumption that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be repealed and replaced with a version of the American Health Care Act that the CBO has already estimated would result in at least 13 million fewer people having access to health care. These changes would be harmful to all Americans because it will make life-saving health care less accessible, exacerbating poor health, health disparities, and mortality rates associated with preventable conditions. They would be particularly harmful to communities of color, as these groups had the largest uninsured rates prior to the ACA and saw the largest increases in access to care through the implementation of the ACA. To date, plans to replace the ACA have not been projected to increase coverage for Americans, but rather strip away the benefits they gained through the ACA. For example, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 6.3 million people would pay higher premiums for pre-existing conditions under the new healthcare bill.

Slashing Medicaid

The new budget also seeks to reduce the numbers of Americans with access to life saving healthcare by turning Medicaid into a per-capita or block-grant system. This change to Medicaid spending would be devastating as states would be given a fixed amount of funds and then be tasked with deciding which individuals receive benefits. Historically, this has been an excuse for states to discriminate against the poor. Given that a relatively small number of recipients receive a large proportion of benefits, and that minorities disproportionately use Medicaid, a block-grant or per-capita system would place children, women, and men of color at an increased risk of losing health coverage. Additionally, while the new budget does not include any direct cuts to Medicare funding, it fails to take into account that one out of every five Medicaid beneficiaries is also a Medicare recipient—thus negatively impacting access to care for senior citizens who fall below 138% of the federal poverty line.

Raiding Social Security

The President’s budget actually raids Social Security by targeting cuts for its Disability Insurance program (breaking one of Trump’s key campaign promises) to support its illicit tax cut scheme for the wealthy. This action is an unconscionable violation of the public trust because it imperils the sustainability of Social Security, the wellbeing of people who rely on its disability benefits, and the ability of future workers who become disabled to access the program’s benefits.

WEALTH
Using the Tax Code to Subsidize the Rich

The President’s budget seeks to use the tax code to funnel more money to wealthy individuals and corporations through tax cuts approaching nearly $2 trillion over the next 10 years. The administration argues that such changes will generate higher revenue from the growth of U.S. businesses, but there is no evidence that such projections will come to pass.

The reforms will disadvantage all Americans in countless areas but will especially burden those that rely on public programs whose budgets will be reduced to subsidize the rich. Ironically, the budget touts tax simplification while making it harder for the poor to access tax benefits. For example, the new budget would require beneficiaries of the earned income and child tax credits to produce their Social Security numbers to be eligible, which is information the working poor, especially people of color, are statistically less likely to have.

Decimating the Social Safety Net

The budget is proposing tougher restrictions on safety net programs under the guise of encouraging more able-bodied people to enter the workforce. Their approach would result in billions of dollars in cuts over the next 10 years targeting programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and fails to acknowledge that many recipients in these programs are already engaged in the workforce.

Low-income Americans of all backgrounds will be negatively affected as they are more likely to work in low-wage jobs that do not provide a living wage, and thus are dependent on supplemental food programs. Many of these programs are already operating under anemic funding levels and will have difficulty serving their current recipients with even more reduced funding. Additionally, it is important to note that only a small percentage of the annual budget is allocated to those targeted programs.

EDUCATION
Devolving Education Back To The States

The budget proposal wants to decrease federal oversight of education, giving increased control over it to states and localities. This change would be problematic as federal oversights were put into place to ensure that states enforced desegregation, protected students with disabilities, and distributed funds in a fair manner, not just based on local property taxes. This also would have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities that cannot afford to finance superior education without government support, especially in rural areas where the economies of scale simply do not justify multiple educational alternatives. Additionally, public schools in urban environments with high concentrations of low-income minority students would suffer disproportionately as vital funding resources would be further diminished.

Ending Subsidized Students Loans

The proposed budget would eliminate subsidized student loans as well as debt forgiveness for those that enter public service. In total, over $9 billion would be slashed from the Department of Education’s budget. This will affect low-income students significantly because it would end the government’s current practice of paying off the interest of undergraduate students loans while they are still in college. It would also divert talent away from worthwhile public service programs that meet the needs of America’s underserved people and areas of the country.

Trump’s budget agenda endows the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. It touts the restructuring of Medicaid, tax cuts, and welfare reform as being the key to economic growth, but it fails to acknowledge that stingy employers, a broken labor market, and a system that consigns entire groups of people to the working poor are all responsible for undermining the economic stability of the United States. It creates clear winners and losers, those who the Administration feels should be protected by fiscal policy and those who should be left vulnerable. Communities of color, women, children, the disabled, and seniors are all at risk under the proposed budget. Serious and extensive revisions must be made to ensure the implementation of a budget that is inclusive, equitable and just.

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Founded on the principle that a more inclusive nation is a stronger, more prosperous one, the Center for Global Policy Solutions (CGPS) is a 501(c)(3) that equips businesses and organizations with the tools to effect change, driving society toward inclusion. Drawing on our unique blend of policy and advocacy expertise, CGPS develops strategies, research, programs, policies, and communications that address disparities in health, education, and economic security by race/ethnicity, place, gender, and age.

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