Proposed budget cuts prioritize border security over American families and communities

Recently, the Trump administration released its 2020 budget proposal calling for a $54 billion (9 percent) reduction in non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding, which goes toward health and human services, education, workforce development, housing and urban development and a broad range of domestic programs. as compared to 2019.

After adjusting for inflation, the proposed cuts from the 2019 budget total $69 billion (11 percent). Meanwhile, the same budget proposed a five percent increase to defense programs.

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The cumulative impact on some key areas on NDD funding may be even higher based on the combination of cuts in some agencies and raises in others. For example, the budget proposal calls for an increase in discretionary funding for the Department of Homeland Security (15 percent) including $8.6 billion in new funding for a border wall, while cutting funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (12 percent), Housing and Urban Development (18 percent) and the Department of Education (10 percent).

While the administration’s budget proposal is unlikely to pass in its current form, it exacerbates an already notable and disproportionate shift to increased defense and border spending at the cost of domestic spending that supports families and communities. These cuts have the potential to undermine support for families and communities, which in turn could have long-term consequences for our nation’s economic success.

For example, the administration proposes a $143 trillion cut to Medicaid, additional work requirements and a shift from Medicaid’s current pay-as-needed system into a block grant, reducing Medicaid access among children, older adults and individuals living with disabilities.

Proposed changes to Medicaid could cost as many as 1.4 to 4 million individuals their health care coverage according to a recent study from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

Budget proposals also include changes in school lunch eligibility, cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) that will limit eligibility and negatively impact children and families  living at or below the poverty line. And, it’s important to note that the biggest beneficiaries of SNAP and TANF are children who will still need access to the benefits SNAP and TANF bring as their parents begin to reenter the workforce.

The proposed elimination of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and the HOME Investment Partnerships for affordable housing for working families will remove valuable supports that help  low- and moderate-income individuals and families access affordable housing, livable communities and economic opportunity.

As a national network of vital, community-based human service organizations that are building the human capital of America, we believe we all thrive and economies flourish when everyone can reach their full potential.

Achieving that potential means ensuring that everyone, no matter their current situation, socio-economic status, or geographic location, has a strong foundation that enables them to thrive. The essential building blocks for that foundation include:

1. Employment that provides sustainable income, economic mobility, and comprehensive workforce supports

2. Affordable, preventive, fully integrated health care, regardless of income

2. Healthy, livable homes in safe, secure neighborhoods

3. Safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments, including quality care options across the lifespan

4. Educational success that begins with nurturing and supportive families and continues with early childhood development through post-secondary advancement

We know through research that the social and environmental determinants of health are the biggest predictor of all of our health and wellbeing regardless of economic status. Investments in our people — through workforce supports, preventive health care, safe neighborhoods and educational success — become long-term investments in our nation as a whole.

We advocate for federal fiscal policy that offers healthy developmental opportunities across the lifespan, supports positive outcomes for children and families, and reduces disparities in the opportunities people have to realize their fullest potential.

We urge Congress and the administration to make federal funding decisions that build our country’s greatest asset for a strong, vibrant economy and nation: our people. When people thrive, America thrives.

Ilana Levinson is the senior director of government relations for the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, a strategic action network of thousands of committed social sector leaders across the nation.