President Trump’s budget blueprint is revealing the underlying philosophy behind Trump’s politics, and the proposed cuts are particularly cruel.
The “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” document provides some of the details behind the full presidential budget, which will be released in May, that calls for more than $50 billion in new military spending. However, that new money for the Pentagon will come at the cost of dozens of federal agencies and programs that millions of people depend on. Here are 10 of the cruelest cuts in the Trump budget:
1. Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program (LIHEAP)
In 2009, a 93-year-old man froze to death in his apartment, where the temperature was below 32 degrees Fahrenheit when his neighbor found him. The elderly man in the apartment had over $1,000 in late electricity bills, and the power company put a device on his home that limited his power usage. Had the man had access to LIHEAP, he may have avoided what the local medical examiner said at the time was a “slow, painful death.” Trump’s “skinny budget” eliminates funding for this program.
2. The Choice Neighborhoods program
The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods initiative is meant to rejuvenate public housing and provide a safe space for low-income families to live in their communities. HUD’s website describes the program as an effort that brings an entire community together to address public housing challenges.
“Local leaders, residents, and stakeholders, such as public housing authorities, cities, schools, police, business owners, nonprofits, and private developers, come together to create and implement a plan that transforms distressed HUD housing and addresses the challenges in the surrounding neighborhood,” HUD’s website states.
3. Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
WIC has long been a staple for low-income women with small children, who depend on the program to be able to afford food for their households. In the first three months of fiscal year 2016, roughly 7.8 million Americans used WIC. Trump’s budget would cut WIC’s funding by $200 million.
4. The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)
Emergency food assistance for Americans living in poverty would get the axe under the Trump budget. The CSBG, which operates under the authority of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, describes its duties as providing nutrition to the most vulnerable populations, including food banks, which one in seven Americans depend on:
- Organizing and operating food banks;
- Assisting food banks of faith-bases and civic organization partners with food supplies and/or management support;
- Counseling regarding family and children’s nutrition and food preparation;
- Preparing and delivering meals, especially to the homebound elderly;
- Providing meals in groups settings; and/or
- Initiating self-help projects, such as community gardens, community canneries, and food buying groups.
5. Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)
This program is slightly different than the nutrition program offered under the aforementioned HHS program. The CDBGs, which come from HUD, provide $3 billion annually for programs like Meals on Wheels, which provides food to more than 2 million elderly shut-ins each year. Trump’s “skinny budget” would eliminate that $3 billion and leave it up to underfunded states to decide whether or not they want to fund the program on their own, saying it “has not demonstrated results.”
6. 21st Century Community Learning Centers
The Trump budget would completely zero out this program, which is run by the U.S. Department of Education (DoE), in order to provide another $1.2 billion in military spending. The DoE’s website describes the program as an additional resource for low-income students attending schools where most students live in poverty, where they can acquire the education they need to get up to speed in core subjects:
“The program helps students meet state and local student standards in core academic subjects, such as reading and math; offers students a broad array of enrichment activities that can complement their regular academic programs; and offers literacy and other educational services to the families of participating children,” the website states.
7. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
Another DoE program that provides up to $4,000 per year for low-income students trying to pay for college would be eliminated if the Trump budget became official, saving just $732 million per year. To qualify for the program, a student must file their FAFSA form, not be in default on any student loan, not have a bachelor’s degree, not have any Pell Grant overpayments, and must be a U.S. Citizen.
When dividing that $732 million savings by 137 million federal tax returns filed in 2015, that means taxpayers would only save about $5.34 each year from this program’s elimination.
Kevin Wallace is a journalist with five years’ experience in print and digital media, and covers politics, media, and culture for the Resistance Report. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.