Earlier this week, the Trump administration launched a massive salvo against the working and middle class with a budget that was every bit as absurd as its title: “A New Foundation for American Greatness.”
Trump’s spin was characteristically grandiose and empty of truth. In a message to Congress he wrote that the budget’s “defining ambition is to unleash the dreams of the American people.” He’s going to do that by “laying a new foundation for American Greatness,” with a “streamlined Government” that will “drive an economic boom that raises incomes and expands job opportunities” for everyone.
Let’s be clear: the only thing new about this proposal is the scale of bad conservative ideas it features. Otherwise, it’s in line with a decades-old pursuit to cut Social Security, Medicaid, and other vital protections to bankroll handouts to their wealthy patrons. Trump does this to the tune of $5.5 trillion in tax cuts—as in, more than the GDP of Japan. He promises that this windfall for the rich will lead to massive economic growth, job creation, and new revenues—so much so that the $5.5 trillion will pay for itself.
The fact is that we have decades of data showing that when it comes to tax cuts for the wealthy the only thing you can count on is that the wealthy get tax cuts. No job creation, no economic boom—just some major shortfalls in revenue when it comes to things like paying for schools, libraries, roads, and other vital services.
Boiled down, this proposal is simply an unprecedented transfer of wealth to the very top that comes at the expense of the rest of us. It shows a callousness towards Trump’s own voters and takes a wrecking ball to our shared basic living standards.
This proposal is simply an unprecedented transfer of wealth to the very top.A $64 billion cut to Social Security Disability Insurance—a basic support workers pay into in case they are someday unable to participate in the workforce—would hit older workers and blue collar workers the hardest.
Another $800 billion—$1.4 trillion if you include the Republican health care plan—is slashed from Medicaid. This will impact not only people with low-incomes but also those of us who rely on Medicaid for care in nursing homes. Literally tens of millions of people would lose coverage.
Trump also takes a torch to the SNAP (food stamp) program with a 28 percent cut—this for assistance that currently averages about $1.40 a meal and still manages to produce excellent long-term educational and economic outcomes for recipients. (If instead he focused on raising the minimum wage to just $12 an hour, it would save $5.3 billion annually in SNAP support. It’s not that people aren’t working, it’s that the damn wages are too low to pay for the basics.)
At a time when people are being priced out of college or carrying an overwhelming debt burden, Trump would reduce support for loans and grants that help make college more affordable.
Trump continues to wage his war on science and the general health and well-being of the public, with nearly $6 billion in cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), $1 billion in cuts to the National Cancer Institute, and billions more from basic scientific and medical research. For good measure, there is a $35 million cut to the Center for Disease Control’s Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, and the elimination of federal grants for Special Olympics. And we know global warming and environmental hazards are of no concern to Trump—he cuts Environmental Protection Agency funding by 31 percent, including one-third of the budget for climate and clean air work.
All told, Trump takes an axe to a dizzying $1.7 trillion worth of support for our basic living standards, in order to give away trillions more to the wealthiest among us. He rode a wave of populism to the White House, and then spit in our faces by doubling down on historic levels of inequality.
There is only one rational response to this man and his cronies of wealthy elites and conservative ideologues: Fight harder than we’ve ever fought before.
Author’s note: One way to fight back with TalkPoverty and allies is by sharing your story about how government assistance has been there for you—or people you know—when you need it. Together, we can make sure the budget debate is about our lives, not about lies and numbers. Join the #Handsoff Campaign at HandsOff.org today.