Trump's budget plan, heartless in spots, will be hard sell

Henrietta Strickland
May 27, 2017

Donald Trump's budget director has faced fire from Democrats as he attempted to defend the President's budget proposal - which would slash federal spending on social safety-net programmes by more than $1 trillion (£77.2bn) over the next 10 years. He lops a total of $1.7 trillion off that and similar programs, including food stamps, school lunches and Habitat for Humanity.

"We've lost 40 percent of our wheat crop and you're telling me there's going to be large cuts to crop insurance?" asked Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

"Regarding the double-counting", Mulvaney said, "here's one of the things I think that a lot of folks have overlooked - and we did it on goal because it's sort of hard to count this, and you don't want to make too many assumptions - you have to make assumptions about a budget".

The New York Times adds that the budget is controversial for other reasons, not least hundreds of billions of dollars of cuts over the next decade "that would cut deeply into programs for the poor".

"It's not a serious budget", said Stan Collender, a leading budget expert who used to work for the congressional budget committees. "Now, you tell me if that sounds like the real world", Mulvaney said. And many of them already do.

"All Americans, but particularly one of the top federal anti-poverty officials, should understand that the main causes of USA poverty are economic, not mental", said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America. He repeated a commitment to the Medicaid safety net on other occasions. About two-thirds of the 42 million people who get SNAP benefits are elderly, disabled or children. So much for the Republican fetishization of working one's way through college.

But he also said Mr. Trump's plan is a departure from those of his predecessors, in that it actually includes a way to pay back the bills it racks up. By comparison, 64% said they opposed reducing funding, including 45% who strongly opposed it.

The Washington Post, for its part, noted that for former President Barack Obama (2009-2017), the gap between rich and poor Americans was, as he said in a speech in 2013, "the defining challenge of our time".

Mnuchin is pushing tax cuts as necessary to enhance economic growth as he appears before a House panel reviewing the president's budget.

"When you say cut are you speaking Washington or regular language?"

Michael Tanner of the libertarian Cato Institute also thinks Carson is wrong about poverty being a state of mind. Corporations and high earners - including jobs-generating small-business owners - receive long overdue tax cuts; there's even money for Trump's Mexico wall. Making life more hard for America's most vulnerable citizens is no way to make America great again. They encourage work and aspiration.

Joel Berg thinks raising the minimum wage would also help, as would making housing more affordable for low-income families. If Trump and Republican leadership in Congress are able to pass comprehensive tax reform, cut federal spending, or both, the CBO would have to revise its estimates.

Mnuchin's comments came shortly after White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said that government "receipts now are coming a little bit slower than expected".

"The budget uses an optimistic assumption about economic growth, which few economists believe is realistic, and assumes the president's tax plan is deficit-neutral, despite independent scores that the plan would reduce revenues by around $5 trillion", Politico reports.

"We're not kicking anyone off of any program who really needs it", Mulvaney said at a press briefing Tuesday.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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