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Trump’s budget is opening shot in new war on poor and working class

By Masao Suzuki |
May 24, 2017
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San José, CA - On Tuesday, May 23, the Trump administration unveiled its proposal for the federal budget for the coming fiscal year that begins October 1. The proposed budget, if passed, would the biggest attack on poor and working people in more than 30 years.

Health care would be the hardest hit, with Trump proposing cut $800 billion from Medicaid over the next ten years. His budget goes beyond the Republican American Health Care Act, or AHCA, which squeaked through the House of Representatives, by extending cuts to the elderly and disabled covered by Medicaid.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, would be cut by 20% in the next year alone. All funding for Planned Parenthood would be cut, slashing support for programs that many working class and poor women rely upon.

Another cut to international AIDS programs could cause up to a million more people to die. These cuts would reduce the availability of anti-retroviral drugs, which not only keep people alive but also reduce the chance of infection.

The federal food stamp program, or SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) would also be cut by almost $200 billion over the next ten years. Trump is also proposing to have state governments pay for part of the program, which would make it hard to expand food stamps during a recession when it is most needed, as states are often forced to make spending cuts.

Trump’s plan to shift more Medicaid and SNAP to the states raises the specter of the next recession becoming a replay of the Great Depression of the 1930s, as laid-off workers lose their health care and their food. People in the Trump administration said that cutting these safety net programs is “draining the swamp.”

Just as Republicans at the state level used a loophole in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to block the expansion of Medicaid, so would putting food stamps under more state control let these same Republicans cut access to SNAP, leaving more and more hungry poor people.

The Trump administration has said that they want to move people from welfare to work with a $20 billion cut in Temporary Aid to Needy Families known at TANF. But their budget also cut the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is only available to low-income working parents by $40 billion.

Federal workers would have their cost-of-living adjustments for pensions eliminated and have to pay more in pension contributions, taking $116 billion out of federal workers and retirees’ pockets to be used for tax cuts for the rich. Cuts in student loan subsidies would save another $76 billion for the government. Disabled Americans would face a $72 billion cut in Social Security benefits.

While Congressional Republicans are unlikely to swallow Trump’s budget whole, they are likely to propose their own version of austerity for poor and working Americans.

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