The federal budget is a moral document. Cutting anti-poverty programs, housing-assistance programs, and children’s health insurance programs means that vulnerable Americans will go hungry, become homeless and suffer unnecessarily from preventable conditions. Some will even die. Choosing such policy outcomes should always be a last resort, and should never be pursued alongside policies that would make the most financially-secure Americans wealthier. Unfortunately, this is the path the Trump Administration chose to take with this week’s release of the fiscal year 2018 budget proposal following last month’s release of “the biggest tax cut in history.” Americans who need help the most will lose it under President Trump’s budget, while those who need help the least stand to receive the largest tax cut in history.
America is the most powerful nation on Earth. How we, as Americans, choose to allocate our wealth of resources says more about us, as a people, than any speech or party platform ever will. What this week’s budget proposal says is that we are no longer willing to spend one penny on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Community Development Block Grants, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, or subsidize college loans for low-income students.
It means that vulnerable Americans will go hungry, become homeless and suffer unnecessarily from preventable conditions.
Further, this budget suggests that funding for the Legal Services Corporation should be slashed by 91 percent, the National Institutes of Health by almost 20 percent, FEMA state and local grants by almost 40 percent, funds for clean-up of superfund sites by almost a third, the National Endowment for the Arts by 80 percent, the National Endowment for the Humanities by 72 percent, and federal work study for low-income college students by almost half. Apparently, the American Dream under the Trump Administration is to gut investments in our future, our safety, our health and our culture. As the mother of two young boys, this is not the America I dream of leaving to them.
As a Member of the House Appropriations Committee, which actually writes the spending bills that will become law – not President Trump, I am already hearing from my colleagues across the aisle that this week’s budget “is inadequate to the challenges we face” and “illegal under current law.” As Republican Senator John McCain put it, this budget request is “dead on arrival.” All I can say is I hope so; because if it’s not, America’s most vulnerable will be.
Congresswoman Grace Meng represents New York’s Sixth Congressional District. She is a Senior and Regional Whip for the Democratic Caucus, and a Member of the House Appropriations Committee.