President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposes substantial cuts to anti-poverty and social safety net programs, offering Americans a substantially different view on government as the President tries to make good on promises he made during the 2016 campaign.
It’s also a potent political weapon for Democrats.
Trump’s budget proposal, because of Congress’ desire to write their own document, is unlikely to go anywhere on Capitol Hill, so the President’s proposals are largely viewed as a statement of policy, not a budget that will be adopted in full.
The plan is not likely to pass Congress, but nevertheless Republicans on the defensive. GOP lawmakers will be flooded with questions – both in Washington and at the increasingly contentious town halls across the country – about where they stand on controversial budget cut proposals.
Do they agree with the Trump White House on things like ending funding for popular or longstanding safety net and social programs, for instance?
The White House doubles down on some largely symbolic cuts that the administration rolled out earlier this year – and they didn’t necessarily go over well the first time.
These proposed cuts, including defunding Planned Parenthood, ending the National Endowment for the Arts and winding down funding on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, are political landmines for many Republicans in Congress. Many of these programs, which are set to land on the chopping block on Tuesday, are popular with voters – especially independents and Democrats – and are relatively inexpensive when compared to other government programs.
Multiple Republican senators, including Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have already indicated that they would not support a bill that defunds Planned Parenthood.
And Trump’s budget goes further. According to representatives from the women’s health group, the budget would prevent Planned Parenthood from participating in any federal programs, not just Medicaid, meaning a whole host of federal programs – including HIV prevention, DC breast and cervical cancer screening programs and STD and infertility prevention programs.
“This is the worst budget for women and women’s health in a generation,” said Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Trump’s 2018 budget also would decrease foreign aid spending, slash money going to food stamps and cut billions from welfare.
All of these programs directly impact Democrats and Republicans alike, enjoy support from both sides of the aisle and some were panned by Republicans when Trump proposed them earlier this year.
For example, Trump is proposing $193 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also called food stamps. A CNN analysis found that seven of the top 10 states with the highest percent of population receiving food stamps voted for Trump in November, including Mississippi, West Virginia and Louisiana.
And on welfare, nine of the top 10 states that received the most federal aid as a percentage of their budget – which includes block grant money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program – voted for Trump in 2016, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center.
Trump also proposed slashing foreign aid significantly when he first rolled out his budget proposals in February. Foreign aid makes up roughly 1% of the federal budget and includes a host of programs meant to help implement national security policy.
Republicans did not respond well to the plan at the time.
Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky predicted that Trump’s foreign aid cuts “will not stand” and called other cuts “draconian, careless and counterproductive.”
“There is two sides to fighting the problem that we’re in: There is military and then there’s diplomatic,” he said. “And we can’t afford to dismantle the diplomatic half of that equation.”
And Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, tweeted, “Foreign Aid is not charity. We must make sure it is well spent, but it is less than 1% of budget & critical to our national security.”
White House defends cuts
Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget chief and a former conservative member of Congress, said the cuts need to be made because the President can no longer take money from a tax paying family to subsidize programs that, in his view, don’t work.
“We are no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programs or the number of people on those programs,”Mulvaney told reporters Monday. “We are going to measure compassion and success by the number of people we help get off of those programs and get back in charge of their own lives.”
Asked on Monday whether Planned Parenthood would be defunded, Mulvaney said yes. He also indicated that the National Endowment for the Arts, an independent agency that funds art project, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a non-profit that helps funds PBS and National Public Radio, would both get cut in the coming years.