1. Update
  2. Economic Justice

Trump's Budget Proposal Dismantles America's Safety Net, Funds Tax Cuts for the Wealthy

By Amelia Kegan, May 26, 2017

President Trump's budget request proposes one of the largest redistributions of public resources, cutting trillions from safety net program while instituting trillions of dollars in tax breaks that would primarily benefit the wealthiest people in America.

The president's budget request not only eliminates a number of anti-poverty program, it also fundamentally dismantles SNAP (formerly food stamps) and Medicaid, threatening the long-term sustainability and effectiveness of these programs. Moreover, all yearly appropriated non-defense programs are cut nearly in half over the next decade compared to their 2010 levels. Just a few examples include:

  • Eliminates Housing Choice Vouchers for more than 250,000 low-income households. This program mainly helps extremely low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and working families with kids, and these cuts would increase homelessness and exacerbate hardship for some of America's most vulnerable populations.
  • Eliminates LIHEAP. It's budget is less than $4 billion, but it provides crucial energy assistance 6.7 million for low-income households every year. All would lose benefits if LIHEAP were eliminated. Rural households would lose an average of $500 in annual assistance towards heating their homes in winter and cooling them in the summer. Urban households would lose an average of $450 in annual assistance. Eliminating LIHEAP would cause 200,000 to fall into poverty and 50,000 people would fall into deep poverty.
  • Adopts and then doubles down on the Medicaid cuts in the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA), cutting the program by $1.3 trillion over ten years. The AHCA cut 14 million people off of Medicaid, which is already extreme and unacceptable. Under President Trump's proposal, the loss of coverage would be even worse.
  • Ends the federal financing structure of SNAP (formerly food stamps), requiring states to contribute a quarter of the funding. This would put an additional budgetary strain of $116 billion onto state budgets over ten years. States could add many more restrictions that would prevent struggling individuals from accessing SNAP. In 2016, 21.7 million households received SNAP benefits to help them put food on the table and feed their families. The Trump budget would cut more than a third of them (over 8 million households) from the program.
  • Gives away trillions of dollars in tax cuts, mostly for the wealthy. For example, the richest 400 people in America (with incomes above $300 million a year) would each get an average tax cut of $9 million per person every year.

The good news is this is only a budget request. It is not a piece of legislation. Congress controls the power of the purse. The bad news is that although President Trump's budget proposal may sound extreme, it's nothing new. For years, we've been fending off cuts to programs that provide nutrition assistance, housing assistance, education and job training to individuals struggling to put food on the table and provide for their kids. For decades, we've seen proposals to dismantle SNAP and Medicaid, to hand the programs over to the states and to dramatically cut federal funding over time. Congress has repeatedly pushed for tax cuts that benefit the wealthy while depriving the country of the revenue needed to pay for needed investments in our communities and opportunities for our children. But now, the votes may be there to pass these proposals.

That's where your voice comes in. Your advocacy will determine how these budget proposals shake out. Members of Congress must feel pressure and hear the voices of their constituents calling for a different set of priorities. Specifically, call on them to commit to opposing any budget that includes harmful cuts to Medicaid, SNAP, and programs serving low-income individuals.

Amelia Kegan

  • Legislative Director, Domestic Policy

Amelia Kegan leads the domestic policy team's work in analyzing legislation, advocating on Capitol Hill, and developing legislative strategy. Prior to coming to FCNL, Amelia worked at a variety of other national non-profits in D.C. and Chicago, focusing on federal budget, tax, and low-income policy.