Apparently, the Trump administration wants to balance the federal budget in part on the backs of the poor, the sick and the marginalized.
In the budget proposal released Tuesday by the White House, the deepest cuts come at the expense of the most needy.
Taking major hits would be Medicaid, food stamps and other public aid for low-income children and families. The budget also calls for an end to subsidized federal student loans and the loan-forgiveness program for public servants.
It’s a wildly overreaching proposal that is likely to look tremendously different by the time it’s signed into law. Much of what’s in it probably will get stripped out by Congress. Still, the budget speaks volumes about what the administration thinks of struggling low- and middle-income people.
It’s an affront to Americans who seek a better life but have fallen.
I’ll brace myself for the onslaught of hate-filled, name-calling vitriol from people who believe President Trump’s budget is right on the money. Many people think their fellow citizens find themselves in need because they haven’t tried hard enough to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Or because they are lazy or financially irresponsible.
It is not without truth that many people experiencing money troubles have made monumentally bad decisions. But that does not mean — if we aspire to be a civil and caring society — that we don’t put in place safety nets to help people recover and rise above their circumstances.
I have a front seat in the struggle to help people get back on their feet. I run a volunteer ministry at my church in which we spend a year helping folks budget better, get out of debt and save. I also work with prison inmates, teaching them how to manage their finances once released. So I think I have the in-the-trenches credibility to comment on the underlying tone of the administration’s budget.
This plan is cruel.
And by issuing it, the White House is basically saying to people: You are on your own.
I often preach that families should borrow as little as possible for college. But the Trump budget would eliminate subsidized loans, which make borrowing less expensive for needy students.
Also gone would be the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program available to borrowers who take jobs with the government or nonprofit organizations. Many of these people chose to work for us — the public — making less than they might in the private sector and under the assumption that they could get some debt relief.
Trump’s budget essentially says: How dare people be born to addicted, alcoholic or financially challenged parents who can’t take care of them. The proposal would slash various public assistance programs.
How dare people not be able to find a job that pays enough to allow them to eat every day.
The budget calls for more than $193 billion in cuts from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps. And the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program would be scythed by almost $22 billion.
How dare you get sick and not have a job that provides health care.
The budget proposal calls for a piercing cut of more than $800 billion over the next 10 years in Medicaid, which provides health coverage to low-income Americans. The Children’s Health Insurance Program would see $3.2 billion in cuts compared to the previous year’s budget.
Don’t become disabled, because it’d be tougher to get help under this plan. The White House estimates it can reduce funding to federal disability programs by reducing program participation.
And how dare the country’s most vulnerable believe the president when he said that Mexico will pay for a wall to seal off the border.
Under the budget Trump put forth, American citizens would have to make do with weakened safety-net programs so that he can spend $1.6 billion of our money to start construction of a wall.
There is some hope. This brutal budget has several steep obstacles to overcome.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement: “In our system of government, the president proposes and Congress disposes. Congress has the power of the purse strings. I’ve never seen a president’s budget proposal not revised substantially.”
In a briefing, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney tried to summarize the rationale behind the proposal.
“What’s the heart of this?” he said. “I’m trying to figure out a way to articulate this the best.”
Let me help you, Mr. Mulvaney.
The federal budget should be tighter, and we do need to reduce the deficit. But not like this.
This is a budget that needs the Wizard of Oz, because it doesn’t have a heart.
Write Singletary at The Washington Post, 1301 K St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more, go to http://wapo.st/michelle-singletary.