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 		 [President Trump’s 2020 budget, released March 11, 2019, would
make poverty more widespread, widen inequality and racial disparities,
and increase the ranks of the uninsured.] [https://portside.org/] 

 2020 TRUMP BUDGET: A DISTURBING VISION  
[https://portside.org/node/19591] 

 

 Paul N. Van De Water, Joel Friedman and Sharon Parrott 
 March 11, 2019
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
[https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/2020-trump-budget-a-disturbing-vision]


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 _ President Trump’s 2020 budget, released March 11, 2019, would
make poverty more widespread, widen inequality and racial disparities,
and increase the ranks of the uninsured. _ 

 , Paul Schickler 

 

President Trump’s 2020 budget, released today, would make poverty
more widespread, widen inequality and racial disparities, and increase
the ranks of the uninsured. It would also underfund core public
services and investments in areas that are important for long-term
growth, both in 2020 and for the next decade. And at the same time
that it calls for these extensive budget cuts reportedly out of
concern for the deficit, it provides costly tax cuts tilted to those
at the top. The budget’s major themes are clear — and disturbing.

THE BUDGET PROPOSES DEEP CUTS IN NON-DEFENSE DISCRETIONARY (NDD)
PROGRAMS ALONGSIDE SIZEABLE DEFENSE INCREASES, WHICH IT WOULD FUND
THROUGH A MASSIVE BUDGET GIMMICK. NDD programs, funded through annual
appropriations, range from education and veterans’ medical care to
environmental protection, low-income housing assistance, child care,
national parks, and international affairs. The Trump budget proposes
cutting fiscal year 2020 NDD funding by $54 billion (9 percent) below
the 2019 level, and by $69 billion (11 percent) after adjusting for
inflation. These cuts hold NDD funding to the cap set by the Budget
Control Act (BCA) of 2011 and subsequently lowered through
sequestration.

For most NDD programs, the cuts would be even deeper than these
overall figures suggest, because the budget protects some programs
from cuts and raises funding for others. For example, it increases
discretionary funding 15 percent for the Department of Homeland
Security and 7 percent for Veterans Affairs, while _cutting_ funding
by 12 percent for Health and Human Services, 18 percent for Housing
and Urban Development, and 31 percent for the Environmental Protection
Agency.

Cuts of this magnitude inevitably entail substantial reductions in
various programs that strengthen long-term economic growth or that
assist workers and low-income households, such as education, job
training, and housing. In many cases, such as infrastructure
(discussed below), the budget presents a one-sided view by
highlighting selected program increases while downplaying cuts in
related programs.

The budget calls for still deeper cuts in the years after 2020. In
2029, the budget would set overall NDD funding about _40
percent_ below funding in 2019 adjusted for inflation. Either the
Administration knows that cuts of this magnitude are highly
unrealistic, in which case their claims of deficit reduction are
overblown, or it foresees a nation sharply curtailing much of what it
does, from maintaining national parks to investing in education.

In defense — as in NDD — adhering to the BCA’s cap for 2020
would require steep cuts. But the budget proposes to circumvent the
defense cap by providing large additional funding _outside_ the cap.
It would do so by dramatically increasing funding for Overseas
Contingency Operations (OCO), a budget category that covers war costs
and is exempt from the caps. The budget’s $165 billion for OCO in
2020 is almost _two-and-a-half times_the $69 billion enacted for OCO
in 2019. The additional OCO funding would support core defense
activities, violating the spirit and intent of the BCA. The net result
of adhering to the defense cap but increasing OCO by $96 billion would
be to raise overall defense funding by $34 billion or 5 percent.[1]
[https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/2020-trump-budget-a-disturbing-vision#_ftn1]

The President’s budget departs sharply from the most recent
bipartisan budget agreement, reached in early 2018, which eliminated
the sequestration cuts for 2018 and 2019 in defense and non-defense
and added funding for priority investments in both areas, reflecting
bipartisan recognition that the BCA’s post-sequestration caps are
too low to meet national needs in either area. The additional NDD
funds paid for investments in areas such as child care,
infrastructure, and opioid addiction prevention and treatment.

Even with these new investments, NDD spending in 2019 stands at only
3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), a historically low level.
And the President’s budget would hold NDD funding to the
post-sequestration levels, which Congress rejected for 2018 and 2019
(and, in fact, for every year since the sequestration cuts were first
slated to take effect). By 2021, NDD spending under the budget would
be lower, as a share of the economy, than in any year since the Hoover
Administration.

THE BUDGET WOULD ADD MILLIONS TO THE RANKS OF THE UNINSURED BY
REPEALING THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (ACA) AND MAKING DEEP CUTS IN
MEDICAID. It proposes cutting $777 billion over ten years from
Medicaid and ACA subsidies that help people afford marketplace health
coverage, primarily by repealing the ACA, including the Medicaid
expansion, and replacing that coverage with an inadequate block grant,
while also imposing a per-capita cap on the rest of the federal
Medicaid program. These proposals would end the ACA’s nationwide
protections for people with pre-existing conditions, cause millions
more people to become uninsured, and increase costs and otherwise
impede access to health care for millions more. The budget also
includes other Medicaid cuts, such as making it harder for eligible
people to obtain coverage by requiring additional documentation of
citizenship or immigration status, re-imposing asset tests, and making
it harder for some seniors and people with disabilities to qualify for
Medicaid without selling their homes.

THE BUDGET WOULD CUT ASSISTANCE THAT HELPS STRUGGLING FAMILIES AFFORD
THE BASICS, INCLUDING FOOD AND RENT. It targets for deep cuts
benefits and services for people of modest means, even as it confers
large tax cuts on those at the top. It would cut SNAP (food stamps) by
$220 billion (about 30 percent) over ten years, cut basic assistance
for people with disabilities through Social Security Disability
Insurance and Supplemental Security Income, reduce supports to poor
families with children through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
(TANF), and eliminate the Social Services Block Grant. The budget
calls for deep cuts in public housing, a critical source of affordable
housing, and would raise rents for millions of low-income households
receiving rental assistance (including both those living in public and
private housing).

The budget also calls for policies that would take away assistance —
including health care, food assistance, and housing assistance —
from individuals who do not meet a work requirement. Significant
evidence shows, however, that taking away assistance when individuals
are not employed or enrolled in job programs does little to improve
longer-term employment outcomes, while leaving many worse off when
they lose needed assistance. According to a recent report from the
National Academy of Sciences, “It appears that work requirements are
at least as likely to increase as to decrease poverty.”[2]
[https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/2020-trump-budget-a-disturbing-vision#_ftn2] That
has been the case recently in Arkansas, the one state that has
implemented a Medicaid waiver that takes away coverage from
individuals not meeting a work requirement; as of January, more than 1
in 5 of those subject to the new policy had lost Medicaid, while only
a few hundred had newly gained jobs or increased their work hours.[3]
[https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/2020-trump-budget-a-disturbing-vision#_ftn3] The
President’s budget proposal, when fully in effect, would cut the
number of people receiving Medicaid by roughly 1.7 million people,
based on the Administration’s own estimates of the resulting budget
savings.

THE BUDGET LIKELY SHRINKS FUNDING FOR INFRASTRUCTURE OVER
TIME. Although the budget proposes $200 billion in new mandatory
funding for infrastructure, cuts in other infrastructure funding over
time would likely outstrip its short-run funding increase. For
example, the budget assumes large cuts in Highway Trust Fund spending
after 2021. Although details are still emerging, the documents
released today also show cuts to discretionary funding that supports
infrastructure spending on priorities such as housing, transportation,
and environmental protection and remediation.

THE BUDGET’S TAX CUTS AND PROGRAM CHANGES WOULD INCREASE INCOME
INEQUALITY AND WIDEN RACIAL DISPARITIES. The budget would permanently
extend the 2017 tax law’s tax cuts for individuals, including those
that confer large tax benefits on high-income taxpayers and heirs to
very large estates. This would cost $275 billion in 2028 alone, the
Congressional Budget Office estimates. Together with the budget’s
proposed cuts in Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, and low-income discretionary
programs, these policies would worsen income inequality.

Moreover, because of historical and ongoing discrimination and unequal
educational opportunities, households of color would lose
disproportionately from this combination of tax cuts and program cuts,
which would shift resources to those who already have high incomes or
substantial wealth. The biggest winners from the 2017 tax law were
non-Hispanic white households in the top 1 percent — who receive
more tax-cut dollars from it than the bottom 60 percent of households
of _all_ races.[4]
[https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/2020-trump-budget-a-disturbing-vision#_ftn4] In
addition, the budget’s proposed cuts in SNAP, Medicaid, and other
low-income programs would disproportionately hit Black and Latino
households who would get little or no benefit from extending the tax
cuts.

End Notes

[1]
[https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/2020-trump-budget-a-disturbing-vision#_ftnref1] The
defense total includes $9 billion funding that the Administration has
designated as emergency requirements.

[2]
[https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/2020-trump-budget-a-disturbing-vision#_ftnref2] National
Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, _A Roadmap to
Reducing Child Poverty,_Washington: The National Academies Press,
2019, p. S-12, https://www.nap.edu/read/25246/chapter/2#12
[https://www.nap.edu/read/25246/chapter/2#12].

[3]
[https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/2020-trump-budget-a-disturbing-vision#_ftnref3] Jennifer
Wagner, “Medicaid Coverage Losses Mounting in Arkansas from Work
Requirement,” CBPP, January 17,
2019, https://www.cbpp.org/blog/medicaid-coverage-losses-mounting-in-arkansas-from-work-requirement
[https://www.cbpp.org/blog/medicaid-coverage-losses-mounting-in-arkansas-from-work-requirement].

[4]
[https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/2020-trump-budget-a-disturbing-vision#_ftnref4] Roderick
Taylor, “ITEP-Prosperity Now: 2017 Tax Law Gives White Households in
Top 1% More Than All Races in Bottom 60%,” CBPP, October 11,
2018, https://www.cbpp.org/blog/itep-prosperity-now-2017-tax-law-gives-white-households-in-top-1-more-than-all-races-in-bottom
[https://www.cbpp.org/blog/itep-prosperity-now-2017-tax-law-gives-white-households-in-top-1-more-than-all-races-in-bottom].

_Paul N. Van de Water is a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and
Policy Priorities, where he specializes in Medicare, Social Security,
and health coverage issues. He is Director of Policy Futures._

_Joel Friedman is Vice President for Federal Fiscal Policy at the
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), where he specializes in
U.S. federal budget and tax issues, and a Senior Fellow at the
International Budget Partnership (IBP), where he focuses on budget
transparency and accountability in countries around the world._

_Sharon Parrott is a Senior Fellow and Senior Counselor at the Center
on Budget and Policy Priorities. Parrott brings to the Center’s
leadership team deep expertise in poverty and economic opportunity as
well as the federal budget and low-income programs and will help
advance the Center’s priorities across a range of policy areas._

_The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a nonprofit,
nonpartisan research organization and policy institute that conducts
research and analysis on a range of government policies and programs.
It is supported primarily by foundation grants._

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