Opinion | White House

Every Democrat should run on Trump's disastrous budget proposal

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

On Monday, President Donald Trump unveiled his 2021 federal budget proposal which would wreak havoc on the vast majority of Americans if passed into law. Ironically titled a "Budget for America's Future," the fiscal proposal would be devastating to our collective future with deep cuts targeting our most vulnerable citizens.

The $4.8 trillion federal budget would cut federal spending on Medicare by $750 billion over the next decade, in addition to $844 billion in reductions to Medicaid and other health care assistance programs during that same timeframe. Since Trump took office in 2017, nearly 2 million Americans have lost health coverage or access, with the "greatest impact on low-income residents of the 14 states that didn't expand Medicaid under the ACA". It was the Republican governors and GOP-controlled legislatures that fought Medicaid expansion, despite the overwhelming data which showed that in states that expanded access, millions of Americans gained coverage and the uninsured rate dropped significantly.

In a speech before our nation's governors this past week, Trump declared, "We're not touching Medicare. We want to keep Medicare. We're not touching Social Security, we're not decreasing Medicaid." The Democrats' attack ads will most certainly write themselves with Trump's own speech running alongside the actual budget cuts to each of those programs.

Democrats won back the House of Representatives on the issue of health care. Exit polls from 2018 showed that for the first time in at least a decade, U.S. voters indicated that health care was their top issue, well ahead of the economy and immigration. Two years later, health care is still the most critical issue in the minds of voters, with a recent Gallup poll finding that "81 percent of respondents ranked health care as an issue important in their vote, higher than any other issue."

In addition to the steep cuts to health care coverage in Trump's budget proposal, the administration is seeking to "reform" the way food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), are allocated. These potential reforms would kick nearly 3.7 million Americans out of the program; slashing nearly $182 billion from SNAP over the next decade. It's important to note that many of these citizens voted for the president in 2016.

During the State of the Union Address last week, President Trump awarded conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom, citing his advanced lung cancer as one of the reasons for the accelerated award timeline. Nearly 234,000 Americans each year are diagnosed with the kind of cancer Limbaugh is facing, but Trump's 2021 budget would cut the National Institutes of Health funding by close to $3 billion, seriously affecting the kind of disease research that could potentially cure cancer; specifically, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) would see the largest cut - $559 million - a 9 percent reduction from the previous year's funding level, affecting millions of Americans struggling with deadly cancers.

Not to be outdone on the health care and cancer research front, Trump's proposal also seeks to slash the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) budget by 26.5 percent in just one year. We know from decades of research that many of the most deadly diseases have environmental causes, especially in areas that have experienced toxic waste. Often these areas are economically disadvantaged and will be facing an even bleaker future with Trump's proposed 10 percent cut to the EPA's Superfund program, which seeks to clean up hazardous waste sites. Additionally, EPA's research and development budget would be cut nearly in half from $500 million to $281 million - supporting the research that goes into preventing harmful diseases will be that much more difficult.

Just as concerning is the Trump administration's proposed cuts to the Department of Education, specifically the Student Loan Forgiveness program that was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007. More than $170 billion would be cut from federal loan programs, making it much more difficult for both students experiencing economic hardship and parents struggling to pay for their child's education.

There are additional destructive cuts proposed to Social Security, disability insurance, housing assistance, foreign aid, and the complete elimination of funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. There is no question that this budget would "serve as a blueprint for Mr. Trump's priorities if he wins a second term," and Democrats running for office must make campaigning against this cruel and harmful federal budget a cornerstone of their candidacy. 

There is a quote often attributed to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. that "budgets are moral documents." If the quote is to be believed, then where is the Trump administration's morals when it comes to supporting Americans, including many Trump voters, who are most in need?

Kevin Walling (@kevinpwalling) is a Democratic strategist, Vice President at HGCreative, co-founder of Celtic Strategies, and a regular guest on Fox News and Fox Business.

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