November 19 2017

Trump budget slashes safety-net programs

November 19 2017, 01:06 | Jodi Jackson

The budget predicts a sweeping tax overhaul package that would strengthen economic growth while providing few details of how the tax code would change. More than US$800 billion would be cut from the Medicaid programme for the poor and more than US$192 billion from food stamps. He also seeks cuts in food stamps and disability insurance.

Advocates for the poor are stunned at the magnitude of the cuts.

"I think it would be really hard for them to ask for massive increases over Obama's planned budget at this point because they just don't have the strategic rational in place".

This budget would be the first to bar a specific provider, according to Planned Parenthood.

"If you are on food stamps and you are able-bodied, we need you to go to work", White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said to reporters Monday.

The Democrats are particularly focused on tax cuts that would benefit the wealthiest Americans. Sen. Of these, 19.4 million were living in extreme poverty, which means their family's cash income was less than half of the poverty line, or about $10,000 a year for a family of four.

Meanwhile, the budget basically leaves Medicare untouched, and might even give it a boost.

The proposal includes a staggering US$1.7 trillion in cuts over 10 years to a category of spending that includes key social and "mandatory" programs for lower-income Americans. He predicts this budget will hit a "brick wall" in the US Senate.

Vice President Mike Pence and Republican leaders met Monday afternoon to go over the administration's first major budget proposal, due out Tuesday.

While the legislation also would allow states to implement work requirements for Medicaid recipients, the Trump administration could do the same thing by granting states a federal waiver of Medicaid rules. Trump plans to reverse this, throwing millions of people back into the ranks of the uninsured. CNNMoney met some of them in Kentucky. The NIH, which funds research into medical treatments and basic science would be cut nearly $6 billion, to about $26 billion. The critical swing state of Florida was among them. Much of that spending plan had been in the works before the November election. According to Mulvaney, this will inspire more people to get off disability and back to work.

The main complaint from businesses, however, is they can't find skilled workers.

Lawmakers failed to pass any supplemental money in 2017 for the wall when it came up with a last-minute package to keep the government funded past an April deadline.

Todd Harrison, a defense budget analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said the switch from grants to loans for military aid may mean that countries will not be able to afford US military equipment, forcing them to go elsewhere for supplies. Trump promised during the campaign to not tough those two entitlement programs and Medicaid, but has reversed course only on the low-income health coverage program. It adds almost half a trillion dollars to defence spending.

Some of the proposed cuts to programs like Social Security's disability benefits are created to push more people into the workforce.

■ $403 million would be cut from physician training programs. Appropriators feel their part of the spending, which is only about 30 percent of overall government spending, has been cut enough since the imposition of annual appropriations caps in 2011.

All told, the budget would reduce spending on safety-net programs by more than $1 trillion over 10 years. Put all that together and there's nothing left to do but take a butcher's knife to the rest of the budget. The unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the recession, yet the number of people receiving food stamps is still more than 42 million.

The cuts would "cripple our nation's scientific efforts, undermining our economic growth, public health and national security", Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities, said in a statement.

Refugee Benefits. The proposed budget makes the argument that the USA should reduce the number of refugees it brings into this country because those fleeing persecution in their home countries often end up using public assistance, including 50 percent who were on Medicaid in 2015.

Trump eliminates "all of the domestic discretionary funding where you genuinely invest in the future: education and basic research", says Holtz-Eakin.

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