By Christianna Silva
President Donald Trump’s administration released its $4.7 trillion proposed budget for 2020 on Monday, March 25, and it’s rife with cuts for programs that specifically aim to help marginalized groups. At the same time, the budget reflects a five percent increase from the 2019 budget, will increase the national debt, and aims to increase spending for defense and allocate an extra $8.6 billion for funding for the controversial border wall, Bloomberg reports. Last year, Democrats blocked the President’s push for increased border wall funding in a standoff that led to a five-week federal government shutdown; here the administration is trying again to push its xenophobic policies through Congress.
At present, the budget is just a proposal and will still have to make its way through Congress before being made law. But politicians are already voicing their disapproval, in the plainest terms. “President Trump has somehow managed to produce a budget request even more untethered from reality than his past two,” Democratic Representative Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement, according to Reuters.
Now that the House of Representatives is controlled by Democrats, the policies proposed by the budget will likely have an even more difficult time making their way through Congress. However, the proposal serves as a blueprint of the ways in which the President and his administration prioritizes its spending, a fact that has always been hiding in plain sight. Here’s what you need to know about how some of the most aggressive proposed cuts.
1. The Environmental Protection Agency would receive a 31 percent cut
The EPA, an agency tasked with protecting human and environmental health, is facing cuts for the third year in a row. EPA cuts tend to affect poor communities of color, which already suffer more from toxic pollution than their wealthy white counterparts, according to the Guardian.
The discrepancy is indicative of the environmental racism inherent in climate change; addressing the stressors placed on communities like Flint, Michigan, and the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is a crucial component of adequately combating global warming, which the Trump Administration has routinely denied. The Environmental Defense Fund also says these cuts could lead to “more lead, toxic chemicals, and contaminated water — jeopardizing the health and safety of all Americans.”
2. The budget slashes funding for Medicare
During his presidential election campaign, Trump famously promised that Medicare, the primary medical coverage provider for people older than 65 who are living with a disability, would remain untouched. However, his proposed budget cuts the program by $845 billion this year, and $1.5 trillion over the next decade. Tellingly, the article on his campaign website that asserted the stance, is no longer available — but the URL, ending in "why-donald-trump-wont-touch-your-entitlements," is still there
3. All government funding for the Special Olympics is at risk
Trump’s budget proposed cutting funding to education for the third year in a row, leading Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to propose a complete elimination of all grant money — which equates to $17.6 million — for the Special Olympics in 2020. She claims that the nonprofit can simply run on private contributions instead of being federally funded.
“Given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations,” DeVos said in a statement Wednesday, March 27, according to CNN. When asked by a House of Representatives subcommittee on Tuesday, March 26, DeVos did not know how many children would be affected by the cut.
For context, $17.6 million is roughly 0.2 percent of the $8.6 billion Trump proposed for the border wall, which experts say will not work. It is also less than half the cost of the $40 million yacht owned by Betsy DeVos that was set adrift on Lake Huron in July 2018, one of her fleet of 10 boats total.
4. Native American scholarships could potentially be defunded
For the second year in a row, the Trump administration proposed defunding a federal grant program that provides college scholarships to Native American students. Such a move would slash nearly $40 million from the Bureau of Indian Education.
“The Higher Education Grant is a huge benefit for thousands of Navajo students each year and for the future of the Navajo Nation,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a press release. “It’s very disappointing that these funds continue to come under threat by this administration. We will look to our leaders in the House and Senate to restore these funds during the budget process.”
5. Social Security is getting cut, too
According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Social Security helps more Americans escape poverty than any other program, but the proposed budget still aims to cut $25 billion from Social Security over 10 years. This includes cuts to disability insurance.
6. Funding for food stamps is in danger
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps, is facing a $220 billion cut over the next 10 years. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, SNAP, which provides nutritional support for low-wage working families, low-income seniors, and people with disabilities, is the “most responsive federal program providing additional assistance during economic downturns” after unemployment insurance. There are currently around 38 million people who use SNAP.
7. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families faces a $21 billion cut
The proposed budget would cut $21 billion from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a program that provides grant funds to states that allows them to provide families with cash assistance and other support services like child care assistance, job preparation, and work assistance, according to benefits.gov. It helps the lowest-income people in the country.
8. Student loan programs could be cut
It’s already incredibly difficult for non-wealthy Americans to afford college. The new budget proposes cutting $207 billion from student loan programs, and wants to eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program altogether. The plan would also torch the practice of subsidized student loans, which helps lessen the load for students who are currently enrolled, or people with loans facing some sort of economic hardship. Basically, if you’re seeking a higher-education degree, the new budget would require you to either buy your way into college, or take on so much debt that you may never pay it off.