It’s worse than even some of President Trump’s most vociferous critics could have imagined. Trump’s first proposed budget was characterized as “Robin Hood in reverse” by one critic, and that’s an understatement.
The presidential budget now out cuts some of America’s most important programs for disadvantaged families.
Medicaid, the federal/state health insurance program for the poor and disabled, would be cut by more than $600 billion over the next decade. Payments to states would be capped and the states, through their governors, would have more leeway in managing the program. In some states where leadership is enlightened, the poor might be somewhat protected. But in states in the South, including North Carolina where lawmakers have been disgracefully harsh toward the poor, Medicaid benefits would be uncertain at best and dramatically diminished at worst.
And how does White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney characterize the cuts to food stamps and Medicaid? “We need people to go to work,” he said. “If you are on food stamps, we need you to go to work. If you are on disability and you should not be, we need you to go back to work.”
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Oh, yes, that’s right. The food stamp program also would be cut, with millions of people dropping off of the rolls of this life-saving program that many families rely on to feed their children.
And, Social Security disability payments would be cut to some Americans as well, in the name of Mulvaney’s theme of putting people back to work.
There is very little fraud in these assistance programs, and the Trump people know it. They are pandering to the right-wing base that put them in the White House: conjuring visions of deadbeats collecting checks and living off the hard work of other Americans. It is a despicable way to try to excuse a heartless, cruel budget clearly designed to somehow keep campaign promises no matter what.
Also on the block are student loan subsidies, highway money for the states and a crop insurance program.
This, in addition to alleged savings from killing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act in the name of ending “Obamacare,” despite the growing popularity of the program and the growing unpopularity of the Republicans’ anemic alternative.
A reality check by economists finds the presidential predictions somewhat unreliable.
Trump’s budget will not stand, of course, as even Republicans in Congress will balk at food stamp cuts and the crop insurance cuts and perhaps even the cuts on the rolls of Social Security disability – something Democrats will rightly characterize as the first GOP volley against Social Security itself. But the Republican budget likely to emerge will most certainly slap the poor and working families. But that short-term demagoguery may have long-term bad political consequences.