Trump’s new Budget repeats the worst of last year’s

Pres. Trump at his Jan. 30, 2018 State of the Union address (via Voice of America)

Trump‘s budget, released earlier this month, wasn’t really surprising; it has most of the same cuts in it as last year. It really shows how committed this administration is to the idea that government should serve the wealthy, not those in actual need of assistance or protection.

His budget has reductions in almost every program that lifts up low-income communities. It will make it even harder for struggling Americans to meet their basic human needs – education, housing, utilities, cash assistance, and food assistance.

Trump’s 2018-19 Budget eliminates key programs…

Here’s a list of some of the programs whose funding he completely zeroes out:

  • LIHEAP – helps low-income families heat their homes (or cool them in warmer climes).
  • Weatherization Assistance Program – helps low-income families lower their heating and cooling bills; their usually sub-standard housing has poor insulation.
  • Social Services Block Grant – funds community agencies that help low-income people prepare for work and provides supports.
  • Community Development Financing Initiatives Fund – provides matching federal funds for community development investments in under-served areas.
    • Healthy Foods Financing Initiative (part of CDFI ) – provides grants to fund healthy corner stores and other food access initiatives in food deserts (like our Fresh Corners program).
  • Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives – provides grants that help low-income people purchase healthier foods (like the Food Bucks program at the Hill District Shop’N’Save and our Fresh Access farmers markets).
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) – the largest federal funding source for operations of afterschool and summer programs.
  • Commodity Supplemental Food Program – provides seniors with boxes of staple food items.
  • SNAP-ed – a nutrition education program.
  • Farmers Market Promotion Program – provides support to farmers markets.
  • Local Food Promotion Program – supports projects that advance community/business efforts to market locally grown food.

…cuts other key programs

Pres. Trump wants giant cuts made to health care (the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid).

His 30% cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/”food stamps”) would reduce how much SNAP recipients get to spend on food (an already low $4 per person a day, on average). In addition, it eliminates government food assistance for four million Americans altogether.

His budget would require states to:

  • terminate SNAP for unemployed childless adults after only three months, even if they live in areas with high unemployment;
  • apply the 3-month SNAP time limit to unemployed adults ages 50 to 62, who are currently exempt due to their frequently having poor health and outdated skills; and
  • eliminate a state option to phase SNAP benefits down more smoothly as working families’ earnings increase, thereby avoiding a “benefit cliff” – where there assistance is cut off before they’re fully back on their feet; and
  • reduce SNAP benefits for 2 million more individuals, largely low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and large households.

The Trump administration also wants what would amount to a sweeping reversal of the progress SNAP has made in recent decades. It cuts up our current food assistance program and mashes it with an expanded version of government food boxes. (Currently only low-income seniors and Native Americans have to suffer these boxes.)

The Trump budget takes $260 billion in SNAP funds away from individual households to create a horrifying Frankenstein model of food assistance. It becomes half “let’s support the free market” and half “let’s have the government buy the food and distribute it.” Two separate types of bureaucracy all mushed up in a patronizing program with limited food choices and strict work requirements, where even a documented job search may no longer deem you as sufficiently worthy of assistance.

No, seriously – a job search might not be a thing that counts towards the SNAP work requirement anymore. In Pennsylvania, we currently count it under a federal provision that this budget proposes to nix.

So if you’re unemployed and desperately searching for work — tough luck. You are now among the nation’s undeserving.

…and is decidedly anti-poor, not anti-poverty

The good thing about a president’s budget is that it’s basically just a tool of rhetoric that illustrates the President’s priorities. The bad thing about this budget is that it reinforces some of the worst rhetoric about financially struggling families:

All in all, this is a budget designed to make people in poverty suffer more, not less. And if enacted, there’s a very real question whether they’ll survive.

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