The main beneficiaries of President Donald Trump's 2018 budget proposal are the people who already have too much, the one percent. Here's how tax cuts go for them, as reported in Yahoo! News:
”According to calculations from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities [CBPP], each household in the top 1% would receive approximately $250,000 per year, and the 400 taxpayers with the highest incomes would each receive at least $15 million per year, for a total of 'at least $6 billion annually.'
“As the CBPP points out, '$6 billion is more than the federal government spends on grants for major job training programs to assist people struggling in today’s economy,' and it is 'roughly the cost of providing 600,000 low-income families with housing vouchers.'”
Other winners in the budget proposal would be the military at a 10 percent increase and the border wall with $1.6 billion set aside to begin its construction.
After that, it is a reverse Robin Hood budget. All of the above is being paid for with deep cuts to programs for children, the poor, disabled, elders and important agencies of the federal government that benefit everyone.
So many programs and agencies are under the knife in the proposed budget that I'll concentrate on the ones that mostly affect old people by which I do not mean to slight the pain others would suffer. No one but the very rich would escape hardship if Congress passes this budget.
First, here is a chart from the White House showing some of the "winners and losers" in Trump's first budget. Most of the ones we'll discuss fall under the Department of Health and Human Services. (Don't faint at the percentage reduction of the Environmental Protection Agency.)
$800 billion would be gone from the program that gives millions of elders access to long-term care. That amount is on top of the $839 billion that would already be cut under the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) that passed in the House earlier this month.
Few people recall that during the campaign, candidate Trump promised to not touch Social Security, Medicare and MEDICAID. (More on this below.)
MEALS ON WHEELS
Eliminates the Community Services Block Grant that helps pay for delivery of meals to low-income and house-bound elders.
Eliminates the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that helps elders with winter heating costs. I lived in Maine for four years, one of the poorest and coldest states in the U.S. This program is crucial to keeping old people there warm (and maybe) alive in winter.
SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY (SSDI)
Administration spokespersons and too many journalists are saying that the budget keeps Trump's campaign promise not to touch Social Security.
HUL-LO. Social Security Disability Insurance IS part of Social Security.
Back in March when he was discussing a preview of the 2018 budget on Face the Nation on NBC-TV, White House Budget Director Mike Mulvaney had this to say:
”Do you really think that Social Security disability insurance is part of what people think of when they think of Social Security? I don't think so.”
Well, I do and so do millions of SSDI beneficiaries and their families. Nevertheless, in keeping with Mulvaney's misbegotten snark, the new budget makes deep cuts to the program that covers people mostly 50 and older who can no longer work, until they are old enough for retirement Social Security.
SSDI benefits are typically modest. In March 2017, the average monthly benefit for a disabled worker was $1,171.52, barely $14,000 a year. If this cut is approved, it would be the first inroad to cutting Social Security retirement benefits in the future.
The proposed budget also makes cuts to SNAP (food stamps), CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program), student loan repayment aid, education and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would take a big hit too.
Experts, pundits and some others who are supposed to know such things are saying that this budget is dead on arrival in Congress and I certainly hope they are right.
But I keep thinking, these are the same people who told us Trump would lose the election and they are kin to Trump himself who said a hundred times during the campaign that he would not touch Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
It's time to make some telephone calls again. The offices of congresspeople and senators keep count and the number of calls they receive DOES matter. So contact your representatives even if you believe they would vote to reject this Draconian budget that would further enrich the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle class.