Mulvaney defends Trump budget's social safety net cuts

Gwen Vasquez
May 26, 2017

President Donald Trump's proposal to slash food stamps by a third will be a hard sell in Congress, even as Republicans have tried repeatedly to scale back the program's $70 billion annual cost.

The plan, Trump's first as president, combines $4.1 trillion for the upcoming 2018 fiscal year with a promise to bring the budget back into balance in 10 years, relying on aggressive spending cuts, and a surge in economic growth. There's little appetite among Capitol Hill Republicans for a genuine effort to balance the budget; GOP lawmakers this year are instead pressing to rewrite the tax code and forge a spending deal with Democrats that would permit higher military spending.

"Basically dead on arrival", opined the Senate's No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn of Texas. It foresees scuttling Barack Obama's health care law and an overhaul of the tax code, a boon to the wealthiest Americans. The budget takes $616 billion out of the planned expansion for Medicaid, $193 billion out of food stamps, and $143 billion from student financial aid. It is true that, as White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said in defending the budget, "There's a dignity to work", but it is largely a myth that assistance programs discourage recipients from seeking employment. Mexico emphatically rejects that notion.

Medicaid, the federal/state health insurance program for the poor and disabled, would be cut by more than $600 billion over the next decade. All federal programs should be continually evaluated for effectiveness and affordability, and that must include Social Security and Medicare, regardless of the politics.

"Ultimately, Medicaid would face a nearly 50 percent cut in the year 2027 relative to current law", the Concord Coalition, a deficit watchdog group, said Tuesday.

"These cuts would be devastating if they take effect", Democratic Sen.

A president's budget proposal is just that - a proposal.

Also on the block are student loan subsidies, highway money for the states and a crop insurance program. "Come on. That doesn't add up".

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Medicaid, a program Trump vowed to leave untouched during his campaign, is set to lose $800 billion in funding over the next decade, according to a White House official who spoke to CNN.

Trump's proposed budget cuts would help pay for a 10 percent buildup in defense spending for next year, and help finance a wall on the southwest border that Trump previously had promised would be paid for by Mexico, something the Mexican government has adamantly said it will not do.

The president's budget would also roll back investments in other programs that have propped up the Heartland, like cuts to rural business programs, hospital funding, and housing and infrastructure programs.

Nobel Memorial Prize laureates and the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman have noted that Trump's budget proposal and tax plan both call for the elimination of the estate tax, which is levied on the estates of people with more than $5.45 million in assets (for the 2016 tax year). Dick Durbin of IL.

Congress is unlikely to approve such deep cuts in the program, since it affects constituents so broadly.

"And what's the result of more spending, more regulation and slower economic growth?" "The Budget assumes the match would be phased in gradually, beginning with a national average of 10 percent in 2020 and increasing to an average rate of 25 percent by 2023".

Experts are also skeptical of a core assumption being factored into "Trumpenomics", as described by Mulvaney on Monday: a forecast of three percent sustained economic growth.

The former NY real estate broker, who previously promised not to cut welfare programs while campaigning to become president, has proposed cutting almost $200 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, over the next 10 years. It projects that if Trump's initiatives are adopted the deficit will start declining and actually disappear by 2027.

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