opinion

OPINION: Trump’s 2021 budget proposal is a disaster for working class Americans



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President Donald Trump gestures during a campaign rally Feb. 21 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas. Tribune News Service

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget released President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2021 budget proposal this month. As per his previous budget proposals, this one is another shiv in the sides of working-class Americans.

This proposal helps almost no one. It slashes social safety nets, federal student loan forgiveness, housing assistance and foreign aid, being especially detrimental to the poor and middle class.

For those who weren’t already convinced that Trump is a liar, this proposal is only further evidence that he is not looking out for hard-working Americans like you and me.

This budget proposal is nothing more than another austerity measure to support our bloated military and maintain Trump’s generous tax cuts for the rich and corporations.

Some of the most important budget cuts in this proposal are to Medicare and Medicaid, totaling a trillion dollars in reductions combined. Despite Trump’s past and present claims to not cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, this proposal cuts all three, just like his 2020 budget proposal.

More than 7 million Americans have lost their health insurance under Trump’s administration. We cannot continue cutting health insurance programs like Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program and should instead expand them, granting health insurance coverage to all Americans.

Even more detrimental are the cuts to food stamp programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This proposal cuts child nutrition programs by $20 million in the first year and up to $1.7 billion over ten years.

These cuts are a step backwards, halting the progress made toward ending childhood hunger. According to a White House official, these cuts were necessary because too many Americans remain on public assistance programs.

If the White House is aiming to reduce the number of Americans on public assistance programs, funding should be directed toward getting all Americans well-paying jobs, rather than cutting public assistance altogether.

According to a Federal Reserve survey, 40% of Americans cannot afford a $400 emergency, and a national bank survey found that nearly half of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Targeting the vulnerable by forcibly kicking off recipients of food stamps will only make it harder for Americans to make ends meet, creating more dependence on public assistance.

With more than 11 million children living in food insecure households, it is absurd to think cutting benefits will help so many Americans who are already struggling.

Most pertinent to college-age students is the budget’s elimination of subsidized federal student loans and ending the public service loan forgiveness program. In effect, this program erases any federal student debt that remains after 10 years of loan payments and public service employment, encouraging college graduates to accept more jobs in public service.

Outstanding student debt is already a major economic barrier for 44 million Americans. Eliminating student loan forgiveness only makes it more difficult for working class Americans to stay afloat financially and limits their ability to reinvest in the economy.

Trump’s war on American workers does not stop there. Major cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development leave less money for block grant programs and rental assistance programs such as Housing Choice Vouchers.

The Trump administration argues this funding would be better use in other areas, leaving state and local governments to revitalize public and federally assisted housing neighborhoods.

This proposal also contains significant cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Commerce and the State Department, reserving increased funding only for defense, Homeland Security, NASA, the Treasury and Veterans Affairs.

With real wages stagnant since the 1970s, Americans need a bottom up economy that evens the economic playing field. Providing healthcare for all, increasing wages, and eliminating student loan and medical debt puts more money into the hands of working people, decreasing dependence on social safety net programs and spurring economic investment.

Despite winning with some populist appeal, Trump has proven time and again that he is not standing with the poor and working class. We cannot tolerate another administration that so blatantly misuses their budgetary discretion to deepen the wealth divide in our already fragile economy.

Jonah Hyatt (he/him) is a junior studying political science and philosophy. He is the treasurer of the Palestine Solidarity Committee at IU.

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