We often speak of federal or state budgets as “moral documents,” meaning that it displays the values or intents of a certain administration or lawmaker. This certainly holds true for President Trump’s 2020 Budget, but the proposals it puts forward show few actual morals.
The proposals put forth by the Trump Budget for Fiscal Year 2020, released earlier this week, are in many ways unsurprising. They are consistent with values put forward by the Trump Administration throughout his presidency: the prioritization of the wealthy, privileged few; the stoking of racist and xenophobic sentiments; the abandonment of low- and moderate-income communities; environmental apathy. But although these proposals are not surprising, they are still alarming and cannot go unchecked. And even though it is unlikely that the proposals put forth by this budget will actually pass Congress and ever actually be enacted, it is important that we do not allow them to set the tone for our country.
The Trump Budget proposes enormous cuts to both Medicaid and Medicare, health coverage programs that serve people who are elderly or low-income. Although the President had previously promised to leave these programs untouched and intact, this new budget puts forth $818 million in cuts to Medicare and $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid over the next decade. Under these proposals, more people throughout the United States would be under-insured, and more would be dangerously lacking any health care coverage at all.
Basic Needs Programs:
The budget’s cuts to federal assistance programs which serve millions of people– like SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)– are disturbing as well. Trump’s budget proposes an overall $220 billion cut to SNAP, a disinvestment in the program which means that the program will be leaving thousands without food. It proposes the replacement of traditional fresh food choices with rigid “Harvest Boxes,” prepackaged and “shelf-stable” foods like canned beans, cereal, and pasta, all pre-selected by the federal government. The budget also proposes a 10% cut in funding to TANF, and an overall 16% cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Trump’s budget proposes a 12% decrease in spending of the Education Department, and proposes changes to federal student loans that would make it both harder for future college students to pay the (already exorbitant) costs of a higher education, and would also make it even more difficult for people to pay back their student loans. Under this proposal, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which is used by many within the non-profit sector as an affordable method to pay back their student loans, would be completely eliminated. The future of Pell Grants, which are federal student aid for families making less than $60,000 a year, would also be similarly murky. This means that college would be even more out of reach for low- and moderate-income households than it is already.
Trump once vowed to cut the Environmental Protection Agency until there were only “little tidbits” left, and this budget certainly shows his intentions. At 31%, the cuts to the EPA are by far the largest cuts made to any one federal agency. Research shows that the environment situation is now dire, and that the time for climate action is right now. This budget shows how utterly apathetic Trump and his administration is to the future of the planet.
The US Department of Homeland Security received a 7% increase, allocating over $8 billion dollars for the construction of a wall on the US border with Mexico (in total that will mean that over $15 billion would have been allocated to the construction of the wall). Trump’s fixation on the construction of the wall is a testament to the racist, xenophobic ideas that he upholds.
These proposals more than likely will never pass Congress. Still, though, we cannot allow this budget to set the moral tone. The values espoused by this budget are attacks on our immigrant communities, our communities of color, our low-income communities, our young people and future students, our elderly, our environment, and so much more. Taking action against the budget, like by adding your comment to this action against cuts to SNAP, or by holding your state lawmakers accountable to uphold the progress you want to see in your immediate community, is imperative. Let’s keep working, both at the local and federal levels, to ensure that values of justice, equity, and opportunity are never cut.