politics

Poor & Disabled Kids Are in the Crossfires of the New Budget–Here’s How

Little boy crying in dark

Now that Donald Trump’s $4.1 trillion budget proposal was officially introduced yesterday, it’s probably a good time to figure out exactly what this means for all of us, considering it’s easy to get bogged down by all the details.

Sadly, most of these changes mean cuts to Medicaid, food stamp, art, domestic and social welfare programs, and student loan programs–which is not exactly helpful for families. As Catherine Rampell in the Washington Post aptly said, “And so, with the ‘compassionate’ goal of making the poor a little less comfortable and a little more motivated, this budget savages nearly every anti-poverty program you can imagine.”

The New York Times analysis put it bluntly: “Not since President Ronald Reagan’s first budget proposal have programs for the poor been targeted so thoroughly.”

According to the Associated Press, these changes aren’t expected to pass the Senate (but the AHCA was not supposed to pass the House, either.

The sad thing is, we can’t count on it not being passed, so here’s the deal: overall, domestic agencies will lose a collective $3.6 trillion in cuts over the next decade:

-It cuts Medicaid by $600 billion over 10 years. This is in addition to the $839 billion expected to be cut from Medicaid by the American Health Care Act.
-It discontinues student loan subsidies.
-It cuts the food stamp program by$191 billion over 10 years.
-Funding for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act job training and employment service programs (like work study in colleges) would decrease by 39% next year. This includes “the $15 billion Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies program.

In addition to these specific numbers, tax credits for lower income people will be cut, as well as medical research and foreign aid programs. Federal pensions would be decreased for government workers, while the budget also advocates eliminating funds for programs like before and after-school programs for poor students, literacy grants, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Community Development Block Grants (which funds Meals on Wheels), and the Energy Department’s Weatherization Assistance Program which helps people stay warm in the winter,

For a full list and break down of numbers, you can go to this CNN article.

Why? What’s the actual benefit to all of these cuts? Budget director Mick Mulvaney said, “We need people to go to work. If you are on food stamps, we need you to go to work. If you are on disability and you should not be, we need you to go back to work.”

Essentially, what he’s actually saying is poor people need to work and raise themselves up by their bootstraps, because the Republican party doesn’t believe in “handouts.” This kind of thinking is racist, entitled, and blind to institutional and health situations people can’t control (like having a disability, being a senior citizen, etc). If you’re a kid with a disability and/or in a low-income family, you can kiss your special education programs (like classroom aids) and work study or school grants goodbye.

This also doesn’t help the maternal mortality rates in the U.S., which is one of the few developed countries to have this problem. This happens because of poverty, as noted in  Slate, “Maternal mortality in the U.S., for example, disproportionately affects black women, who die in childbirth more than three times as often as white women.”

Basically, the gist is, if you aren’t rich, life is probably going to get a lot harder for you–which is ironic, because aren’t middle class and lower income families and individuals the ones that need help most?

But then, who would actually benefit? Well, the military, of course, as they would be provided with a 10% increase in funding, and law enforcement and border patrol would profit too. These funds would also go toward building a border wall.

Even Trump supporters who are on public assistance programs are starting to question the budget. For instance, Krista Shockey is on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a program that helps low-income Americans who are disabled. She told CNN that it’s her “only income” and she couldn’t “live without it.” She went on to say that “there’s no way I could go back to work. I’ve got a lot of problems. I’m crippled in my feet, knees, back, hands.”

No one deserves not to have enough access to basic human rights like healthcare, food, education, and housing because our government decides poor people don’t matter.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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