EDITORIAL: Off target

Proposed Trump budget cuts hurt many needy Americans

Donald Trump won favor during his 2016 presidential campaign for his promise to reduce federal spending and completely eliminate our national debt within eight years. It hasn’t worked out; the debt, which at the time was $19 trillion, has ballooned to more than $23 trillion, growing at the fastest rates in history.

The president’s latest budget plan offers corporate tax cuts but eliminates tax breaks to those enrolled in the Affordable Care Act health plan. It raises defense spending but proposes significant cuts to social programs.

While it’s important to encourage any austerity measures that might be possible, many of the cuts in the current proposal affect many people who can least afford them.

The budget would eliminate the Community Development Block Grant program, which many cities use to help fund agencies that help the poor, homeless and those with special needs. It would end the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which enables older or ill residents to maintain electrical service when they can’t make the payments. It also cuts $785 billion from Medicare and Medicaid, eliminates the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families contingency Fund and makes massive cuts to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. The presidents wants to change SNAP, better known as “food stamps” or Texas Lone Star card to a system that requires recipients to work at least 20 hours a week and receive a box of food rather than a debit card that allows them to shop for their own food.

Trump has pitched this “harvest boxes” idea before and it has been generally panned; critics say packaging and delivery costs would exceed current financial allocations, and perishable goods could spoil during the process — not to mention the hardships that might occur if someone were to steal a family’s food box from their porch.

Almost $200 billion would be cut from Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Plan, which together provide health care for about 40% of our nation’s children.

Despite our nation’s steady recovery from the recent recession, much of the windfall hasn’t yet reached middle- and lower-class Americans. Business revenues are up, but companies are still ramping up inventories they had trimmed during the downturn and funding improvements and expansion that had been delayed. Unemployment is at historic lows, but many of those jobs are part-time and many don’t offer employerfunded health care and other benefits that were more common before the economic crisis. Thus, many employed Americans earn wages low enough that they still qualify for SNAP, Medicaid and other services.

Congress isn’t likely to adopt many of the president’s budget goals, and his goal of reducing government spending should be supported. Given the effect many of his cuts on some of our most vulnerable neighbors and many other places where waste and spending bloat the budget, we hope other targets can be found for reductions.