Food stamps, Medicaid on chopping block in President Trump's budget

Jane Richards
May 23, 2017

Of course, a president's budget is never adopted wholesale by Congress or, in some years, even in parts. The proposal is laced with $3.6 trillion in cuts to domestic agencies, food stamps, Medicaid, highway funding, crop insurance and medical research, among others.

Trump's budget would cut more than $800 billion from Medicaid - which funds the Husky program - over the next 10 years.

The budget proposal also includes a 44 percent cut to funding for global organizations, but does not say exactly what could get cut, other than "funding for organizations that work against US foreign policy interests". People familiar with the plan were not authorized to discuss it by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that over 10 million people would be cut off of Medicaid as a result of the cuts made by the AHCA, the Republican health care bill Mr. Trump championed.

The White House says it would be implemented by cutting back eligibility and imposing additional work requirements. Trump's initial budget proposal cut off a key source of federal funding by making Gateway ineligible for the Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment Program, also known as "New Starts". "Production agriculture is in the worst slump since the depression - 50 percent drop in the net income for producers". John Cornyn, R-Texas, said as he predicted the Medicaid cuts wouldn't survive the Senate.

Trump would keep campaign pledges to leave core Medicare and Social Security benefits for the elderly alone but that translated into even deeper cuts in programs for the poor such as Medicaid and food stamps.

On Monday, Trump released his proposed budget and, true to form, it offsets the predicted drop in revenue produced by his tax cuts with cuts in government spending.

Ryan isn't making any promises about passing the Trump budget, though. It would create three tax brackets - 10 per cent, 25 per cent and 35 per cent - instead of the current seven, but specific details were left to further negotiations with Congress.

The budget is expected to face criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike, and multiple figures in Congress have said that they are likely to ignore the White House's proposal.The government will face another possible shutdown if the budget is not ready by the end of September.

It will be officially released on Tuesday.

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Changes to the spending authorities for federal agencies also follow Trump's rhetoric during the campaign, as the budget balances boosts in defense and national security spending with deep cuts to agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, which would receive 31 percent less under the proposal.

Such cuts - which include "zeroing out" programs like community development block grants and heating aid to the poor - were ignored when Congress earlier this month wrapped up a massive spending bill for the current year.

Trump's GOP allies rejected such cuts when wrapping up long-overdue legislation for the current budget year, which ends September 30.

There's little sign they will have a change of heart now, especially with Trump's administration in turmoil and his poll ratings at historic lows. But this budget, more than others, has opened the negotiations from a new vantage point.

"They have not come down like we would expect them to do", Mulvaney said of the food stamp numbers.

While Trump's draconian proposed cuts may be chilling, it is unlikely that all of them will go through Congress. This year's budget debate, Republicans hope, would grease the way for a major overhaul of the loophole-cluttered tax system.

For the budget's math to work, the Trump administration relies on increasing economic growth to 3 percent, which is an ambitious goal above the 1.9 percent average of the past decade.

Trump has promised a wall on the southern USA border that Mexico will eventually pay for, and the budget includes $2.6 billion in 2018 - $1.6 billion for "new and replacement border wall" in certain locations and about $1 billion for other items including aircraft, equipment and surveillance technology to deter illegal activity.

Another senior Republican lawmaker, Fred Upton of MI, questioned inclusion of money for Trump's border wall, remarking: "I thought Mexico was going to pay for the wall, why is this in our budget?"

Other reports by VgToday

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