Given the expanding economy, for instance, you might assume that more American families had gained health insurance under Trump’s tenure. Nope. Under this administration, the share of Americans who are uninsured has been rising.
Even more damning, 425,000 children lost their insurance in 2018.
In fact, the sharpest increase in the uninsured rate was among children whom Ivanka Trump claims the administration prioritizes most: those from low- and moderate-income families. Most are likely eligible for Medicaid or CHIP but are not enrolled.
A number of Trump policies likely contributed to these disgraceful trends. Among them is the new so-called public charge rule, which makes it harder for immigrants to qualify for green cards if they have used certain safety-net programs they’re legally entitled to — or if government officials believe they might ever use these programs.
The rule has been temporarily blocked by courts, but confusion and fear have ripped through immigrant and mixed-status families. Immigrant parents are pulling even their native-born, U.S.-citizen children out of benefit programs to be on the safe side.
The administration is, meanwhile, pursuing other legally dubious policies that kick poor families off Medicaid, including new work requirements. These policies are a solution in search of a problem, given that most Medicaid recipients already work. Onerous and confusing reporting requirements can cause employed beneficiaries to lose their insurance anyway, as Arkansas learned last year.
A federal court has already struck down such requirements in three states. And yet also on Thursday — as Ivanka Trump was touting a commitment to struggling parents — the administration announced it had approved an especially cruel version of this policy in South Carolina. The state will soon become the first in the nation to impose work requirements almost exclusively on poor parents.
Meanwhile, the administration is pursuing other policies that are shredding supports that struggling families rely on.
Having recently finalized one rule that will result in 700,000 Americans losing food stamps, the administration is pursuing two others that will kick an additional 3 million people off the rolls, based on estimates from the Urban Institute. Nearly 1 million children would lose their automatic eligibility for free school lunches as well.
There’s a long list of other Trump actions egregiously unfriendly to families — including, of course, the family separation policy that ripped some 5,400 children away from their parents, many of them for months. Today, we’re merely sending asylum-seeking families to tent cities in Mexico, where children and their parents can remain together as long as they’re willing to tolerate epidemics, frostbite, kidnapping and sexual assault.
Given this record, how can this administration claim with a straight face that it’s pro-family?
In his remarks at Thursday’s summit, the president emphasized . . . job growth. Which is surely important, though employment under the first three years of Trump has grown at a slightly slower pace than under the final three years of President Barack Obama.
That’s not the only case where the administration has questionably claimed credit for family-related policy achievements.
During a call a day before the summit, a White House aide boasted that Trump had “signed into law the largest ever increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.” He neglected to mention that Trump signed that increase only after Democrats demanded it; in fact, his original presidential budget had instead proposed to cut the program. At the summit itself, Trump hailed the inclusion in the defense bill of a new paid-leave program for federal workers — a concession also extracted by Democrats, in exchange for funding his “Space Force.”
To the extent that this White House, at Ivanka Trump’s urging, is more actively promoting nationwide parental leave programs, the bills in question are not truly paid-leave programs at all. Rather, they merely allow workers to take out loans to fund their leave — loans that must eventually be repaid through cuts to either their future Social Security benefits or future child tax credits.
Thursday’s summit may have provided a nice photo op for the president and his daughter. But whatever Ivanka Trump claims, this first family has yet to prove it’s actually putting families first.