President Trump today released his federal spending plan for Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2018 by proposing to slash over $2.5 trillion in vital programs for the elderly, the disabled, the homeless and the sick. The budget blueprint is breathtaking in its attack on programs that are vital to the well-being of millions of Americans and which have served our country effectively for decades. The cuts, however, are just the precedent for the Administration’s true objective, a massive $5 trillion tax cut disproportionally targeted to the wealthiest Americans.
In the past forty years of neoliberal small government philosophy, the average American has seen a steady decline in their standard of living. Wages have stagnated, opportunities to have a better life than our parents have disappeared, the condition of homelessness has been allowed to spread and take root and people no longer believe that America is on the right track. The President’s budget doubles down on the very philosophy that has brought about the decline in the American dream. It proposes less for the vast majority of Americans and more, much more, for those with the largest share of both assets and wealth. The President’s budget doesn’t drain the swamp, it enlarges the swamp.
Western Center on Law and Poverty is strongly opposed to the proposals in the budget that would harm those least able to defend themselves.
Among the most troubling proposals are the following:
- Cutting the SNAP budget by 25% and leaving poor children, seniors and people who are disabled without adequate food. The Administration does this by eliminating areas of categorical eligibility, severely limits food assistance to unemployed and under-employed single adults and requires states to pay a 25% share of cost for SNAP benefits, allowing states to cut the already meager benefit amounts in order to help them absorb the costs. The budget also requires grocers to pay for the right to accept SNAP benefits, which is expected to reduce small and rural grocer participation in the program.
- The Trump budget cuts $610 billion dollars from the Medicaid program over the next 10 years by capping funds. The budget also assumes other savings from the American Health Care Act (ACHA) passed by the House, including a rollback of the Medicaid expansion and new barriers to enrollment. The Congressional Budget Office stated today AHCA would cut $834 billion total from Medicaid and cut 14 million Americans from the program ― more than California’s total Medicaid enrollment. The Administration’s budget also contains another $6 billion in cuts for Children’s Health Insurance Programs. These cuts will endanger the lives of low-income Californians, destabilize our state budget, and reverse the progress we’ve made in covering the uninsured.
- The budget proposes to cut $72 billion from Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and SSI in part by requiring more disabled persons work and in part by reducing cash assistance to SSI households with more than one SSI recipient. This last change could impact more than 200,000 California families.
- The Administration’s budget cuts $2.2 billion from the Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) program block grant, which is currently $16.7 billion per year, the same amount provided when it was originally created in 1997. This cut would reduce current funding for California’s TANF Program (CalWORKs) of $3.7 billion annually by $379 million.
- Eliminating the Legal Services Corporation in its entirety, endangering California nonprofits that provide free, life-saving civil legal assistance to the indigent, such as California Rural Legal Assistance, Legal Services of Northern California, Bay Area Legal Aid, and Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. The proposal would cut $385 million from programs across the country, including $41 million from California legal service programs. Eliminating civil legal aid is a long-standing goal of those who believe that justice is only for those who can afford it.
- Cutting the HUD budget to the bone by reducing badly needed housing assistance by $7.4 billion. It would eliminate housing vouchers for 250,000 of the poorest Americans and authorizes rent increases that are currently capped at 30 percent of household income. It completely repeals the CDBG and HOME programs, two of the most effective and successful HUD programs at a time when more and more Americans cannot afford even modest priced housing. The budget also proposes deep cuts to historical rural programs at USDA.
- The Budget proposes to eliminate the Low Income Heating And Energy Program (LIHEAP), the Community Services Block Grant program (CSBG) and the Social Services Block Grant program (SSBG).
This brief summary of some of the more egregious proposals is but a starter list of the cuts proposed by the President. The Administration’s FFY 2018 budget would cause sweeping economic pain across the country and put enormous pressure on state governments to backfill cuts.