Trump’s plan to drown government must be stopped
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Anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist famously wanted to make government so small that “it can be drowned in a bathtub.” President TrumpDonald John TrumpCensus Bureau spends millions on ad campaign to mitigate fears on excluded citizenship question Bloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders Democratic senator meets with Iranian foreign minister MORE’s proposal to reorganize the federal government, including merging the Department of Education and the Department of Labor, is just the latest attempt.

First came former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). His Contract For America aimed to reduce government in every possible way. What that really meant, and what it still means, was getting government out of the business of helping poor people and the middle class as much as it does rich people.


Then came the Tea Party. They wanted to see government fail. And, House Spealer Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Paul Ryan says Biden likely won't get Democratic nomination Judd Gregg: Honey, I Shrunk The Party MORE (R-Wis.) tried to channel their disdain to end Medicare and Medicaid as we know it and to leave Social Security to wither on the vine.

And now we have President Trump. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget released his plan in late June. Like the others before it, it is not a legitimate proposal. It is a pernicious ploy to abandon people and unravel the social safety net.

Since his inauguration, President Trump has been hollowing out our federal agencies. He has been deploying the Steve BannonStephen (Steve) Kevin BannonSunday shows preview: 2020 Democrats jockey for top spot ahead of Nevada caucuses Yes, Democrats have to defend their African-American base against Trump Bannon says Trump now understands how to use presidential power: 'The pearl-clutchers better get used to it' MORE playbook of deconstructing our federal government from the inside out.

Look at the two agencies in question. Under President Trump, the Department of Labor dismantled equal pay and anti-sex discrimination initiatives, and removed overtime pay and minimum wage protections, which could hurt millions of women workers. The Department of Education has rolled back protections for borrowers to defend students from fraud, abuse and deception by for-profit colleges and ruthless paid consultants.

That is why experts have expressed alarm about the president’s plan. The School Superintendents Association said the proposed merger is “…more an exercise in process and distraction than substance or merit.” The National Education Association said its “at best ill-conceived and poorly timed and at worst are an attempt to distract the American public from the humanitarian crisis he created along the U.S.-Mexico border.”

The programs at risk are the very ones that make up the social safety net: food stamps and nutrition programs, housing assistance, Medicare and Medicaid.

For example, the president’s plan would also move food stamps, or SNAP, out of the Department of Agriculture. But, this administration has time and again sought to gut the food stamp program. Earlier this year, the president’s budget proposed cutting food stamps by more than $213 billion—a cut that would impact the more than 35,000 families that rely on the program in Connecticut’s Third District.

Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities, summed it up well. She said “…this proposal comes in the context of an administration that has also proposed deep, radical cuts to most of the programs they would be reorganizing.”

So, do not be fooled. This is not a remodel. It is a demolition. And we must oppose it.

The social safety net is one of our country's greatest legacies because it set the stage for a century of unparalleled prosperity.

According to research from the Brookings Institution, the poverty rate has declined by more than one-third since 1967. Why? The social safety net. Child poverty has fallen by 35 percent. Why? The social safety net. In 2014 alone, 4.7 million people were lifted out of poverty, including 2.1 million children. Why? The social safety net.

And, it bears repeating. The reason companies do not feel free to poison us, sell us spoiled meat, lock our daughters in sweatshops, employ our children in coal mines is not because companies experienced a moment of Zen and decided to evolve. It was us. It was government.

That is what is at stake with the president’s latest plan. Any changes must come from the people, not a president as beholden to special interests and as hostile to the social safety net as this one. That is why we must oppose it.

I urge my Republican colleagues to instead, join with Democrats, who are focused on economic policies that create jobs and raise wages. And please, step away from the bathtub.

DeLauro is ranking member on the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee.