Economic Justice

Trump Budget and Tax Proposals: a Disaster in the Making

April 28, 2017
By Molly Rush

Up to now, little attention has been paid to President Trump’s proposed budget and its impact on most Americans. And that’s no accident. Trump’s has a genius for deflecting media attention, with Twitter, constant revelations about everything from the Russian interference in the election, to responses to international crises, and inner turmoil in his administration. So the plans for huge budget cuts in programs that support the common good have been under the radar. Here is a snapshot of these planned cuts.

Block Grants
Since 2000, overall funding for low- and moderate-income people has shrunk 37%, accounting for inflation and population growth. Now it will probably get worse. Many voters who supported Trump could take the biggest hits.
While he won’t get everything he wants from Congress, the extent of his attacks on programs that benefit local  communities, and especially on the poor, and those he promised to help, is devastating.
For example he would cut or eliminate block grants to states totaling at least $8,616 billion for these programs:

Temporary assistance for needy families [TANF]
Child Care
Low income Home Energy Assistance
Community Development
Job training
Substance abuse and treatment
Social Services
HOME investment partnership
Native American housing
Maternal and child health
Community Mental Health Services
Preventive Health and Health Services
Also: Housing Choice Vouchers; public housing; rental assistance for people with disabilities and seniors.
He would cut the part of the budget that funds a range of domestic priorities by $17 billion this year and in 2018 by $54 billion. In other words, the $54 billion increase in the military budget would be paid for by those most in need of support.
Other cuts include, for instance, Neighborhood Legal Services and food programs, including Meals on Wheels.

Proposed cuts to Agencies and Departments
Environmental Protection Agency                  31%
State Department                                                29%
Agriculture Department                                    21%
Labor Department                                              21%
Health & Human Services Department          18%
Commerce Department                                     16%
Education Department                                      14%
Housing & Urban Development                       13%
Transportation Department                             13%
Department of the Interior                               12%
Energy Department                                              6%
Small Business Administration                          5%;
Treasury Department                                          4%
Justice Department                                              4%
NASA                                                                       1%.

The National Institute of Health program for training health professionals would also be cut.

Programs cut include:
National Heritage Areas; Air Traffic Control; AMTRAK; Teacher Training; After school and summer programs;  aid to first generation and low income students; Office of Science; Energy Star and Weatherization.

Veterans Affairs                                    +6%
Homeland Security                              +7%
Department of Defense                       +9%

The Republican majority in Congress passed the Budget Control Act in 2011. It placed tight caps on spending for non-defense discretionary programs as well as the sequestration cuts that further reduced those caps. That act has already led to significant cuts in domestic spending. This proposed budget goes much further erasing decades of hard fought reforms that have improved Americans’ lives.

Trump Tax Plan Another Disaster?
“Tax Reform” has been the mantra of Republicans for years. What did that term mean? Well, the Trump plan spells it out: huge tax cuts for the rich.
“It would shrink government to Truman-era levels,” according to Isaac Shapiro of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. It would reduce revenues by $9.5 trillion over ten years, according to estimates by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.
Multi-millionaires and billionaires rely on their lawyers, accountants and estate planners to avoid taxes through loopholes provided by a willing Congress
The estate tax on inherited wealth would be abolished, a long held Republican dream. It applies only to households with assets of over $11 million (just .2% of the population).
The rest of us can’t game the system, so we pick up the tab for programs that benefit everyone as well as for those who don’t pay their share.
As for specifics, the devil is in the details and they keep shifting. Reports are that Trump scrapped his original plan and, as a New York Magazine article on April 10th put it, “is going back to the drawing board in a search for a Republican consensus behind legislation to overhaul the U.S. tax system.”
In the end, we the people must rise up and – as we did with Paul Ryan’s health care bill – flush it down the toilet.
Then demand true reform of the system and do what it takes to make it happen. Onward!

Molly Rush is a member of the editorial collective, the TMC board and a founder of the Thomas Merton Center.

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