Trump’s Budget

Yesterday, the White House released its official budget proposal. While there is little chance the budget proposal will get accepted as written, the publication writes into history how cruel and short sighted an Administration can be.

From taking away meals on wheels and “food stamps” for qualifying families to deep cuts for the EPA, State Department, and most other agencies, budget telegraphs no concern for the needy, and no strategic recognition for the importance of diplomacy or climate change. This budget proposal is a flat earth document.

Budget Director Mick Mulvany offered a spirited double speak defense of cuts to social programs claiming, in effect, that cutting off support to poor families would hasten their return to the “dignity” of the work force. Hmmm.

IMO, there are systemic problems with most if not all of American’s current social programs. For example, the cycle of poverty seems as healthy today as it was when Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty. Providing meals to grammar school children (in order for them to study better), while compassionate, does not seem to have improved education levels or graduation rates. So does President Trump have a point?

Maybe, but…

The old adage “don’t fix it if it’s not broken” does not translate well into “if it’s broken, just wait, it will get better”.  Dealing with poverty and education are important subjects.

And, to be sure, there are a lot of aspects of the American economy which are not working well. The notion that those currently receiving food stamps will be motivated to go out and get a “good” job is ridiculous. Minimum wage is simply too low to provide new workers a chance for upward mobility. So cutting benefits without an alternative program is tantamount to gross insensitivity to the social welfare of the country. The cuts may be inviting those “without” to take to the streets.

Breaking the poverty cycle, to be sure, is no easy problem to solve. In this regard, neither Democrats nor moderate Republicans have tabled any ideas to improve the current status quo. So with the absence of other plans, does that justify this budget proposal?

Maybe, but…

Conservatives and Libertarians have long championed this type of a budget. No surprise. This budget proposal, however, is not designed to solve social inequities, it is designed to make it easier (in the minds of President Trump and his close advisors) to enact huge tax cuts.

Their thinking goes that these sweeping budget cuts will allow equally sweeping tax cuts without increasing the debt. Conservatives and Libertarians surprisingly do not want to see the debt grow and would prefer to see it shrink. Given the option of a lower debt level and no tax cuts, or tax cuts and no change to the debt, these “real” Americans will choose tax cuts for themselves.

Cutting any welfare assistance programs without an alternative proposal is cruel. Cutting welfare and cutting taxes at the same time is cruel, greedy, and short sighted.

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