Trump budget plan would cut many billions from domestic programs

Evening fog blankets the bay_Mike Oria_4.03.15 (800x533) WASHINGTON — A Trump administration budget proposal released Tuesday that even some Republicans dismissed as too draconian would slash hundreds of billions of dollars from programs that provide health coverage to low-income people in California and the rest of the country.

The $4.1 trillion budget proposal, called “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” takes an ax to domestic programs nearly across the board, from health care to education, science to environmental protection, food stamps to farm programs. The budget would hit Trump voters in poorer red states especially hard by severely reducing the safety net for the poor and working class. Democratic-leaning states such as California fare no better. The budget seeks $600 billion in cuts to Medicaid, called Medi-Cal in California that 1 in 3 people in the state rely on for health coverage. The proposed reductions add to the $840 billion in Medi-Cal cuts proposed in the Republican health care plan that passed the House last month. All federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides health services to many women without insurance, would cease. The plan, released while Trump is on a tour of the Middle East, seeks to balance the federal budget over the next 10 years by cutting federal spending by more than $3.6 trillion, but would boost military spending and cut taxes. It assumes a sustained 3 percent annual economic growth rate for the first time in two decades, although the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects 1.9 percent growth, which many analysts said is far more realistic. Democrats universally panned the budget document. California Gov. Jerry Brown dismissed it as “based on utterly bogus economic assumptions,” saying it provides “a massive tax break to the wealthiest, while imposing painful and debilitating burdens on tens of millions of decent and hard-working people. It’s unconscionable and un-American.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said Trump’s budget “perfectly reflects what Republicans in Congress have been trying to inflict on America for years.” But it was also met with unusual skepticism and even scorn by some Republicans in Congress, which controls spending, and often rewrites or ignores presidential budget plans. Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford (Kings County), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees spending, urged caution. “We must balance our duty to reduce spending with the needs of communities,” Valadao said. “It’s important to adequately fund the critical programs and services many Americans, like my constituents in California’s Central Valley, rely on every day.” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield described the document as a “starting point.” “It puts an investment into the military,” McCarthy said in television interview Tuesday. “He balances the budget over 10 years. He reforms welfare. So he puts people back into work. I think this is a framework that people are looking at, as we start the budget process going forward.” Second-ranking Senate Republican John Cornyn of Texas called the budget “dead on arrival.” House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin had a more optimistic outlook. “President Trump has proven his commitment to fiscal responsibility with a budget that will grow the economy,” he told the Associated Press. The budget plan is an amplification of a preliminary “skinny budget” the White House released in March. That plan also met heavy resistance in both parties, and stunned scientists and environmental and health groups. In California, under the plan released Tuesday, the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab would see a $190 million cut and the Lawrence Livermore National Lab a $123 million cut. A $5 million-a-year program that has helped restore San Francisco Bay’s tidal marshes would be eliminated, along with far larger programs to restore the estuaries of Puget Sound in Washington, the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland and the Great Lakes in the upper Midwest. The San Francisco Bay restoration provides habitat for endangered species, protection from sea-level rise and improves water quality. Similarly, the Sea Grant program, which spends around $70 million a year to protect California’s coast, is among hundreds of other proposed eliminations. “This is a huge cut to a tiny slice of federal budget and it doesn’t make sense to balance the budget by hurting public health and environmental protection in San Francisco Bay or anywhere else in the country,” said David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay, an environmental group focused on San Francisco Bay. Nationally, the administration would cut funding for disease research at the National Institutes of Health, including a $1 billion cut to the National Cancer Institute and similar cuts for other diseases, along with a 17 percent cut at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which its director, Tom Frieden, said would increase health risks. The Environmental Protection Agency’s budget would be reduced by nearly a third. Grants to state and local governments for pollution cleanup would be slashed, dozens of pollution programs terminated, and climate research gutted. Other departments, including Interior, State and Labor, would get double-digit percentage cuts. While often ignored by Congress, a president’s budget provides a detailed framework for an administration’s governing priorities. But unlike predecessors for whom the budget release was an elaborately choreographed event, Trump left the release to White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. Mulvaney said the thrust of the budget is to “put the taxpayer first,” and cut social safety net programs as a way to get people back to work to speed economic growth. “We need people to go to work,” Mulvaney said. “If you’re on food stamps, and you’re able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you’re on disability insurance and you’re not supposed to be — if you’re not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work.” Seven of the 10 states with the most residents on food stamps are states that Trump won in November. The budget also proposes big cuts to crop insurance and other subsidies that go primarily to large farming operations in rural states that voted overwhelmingly for Trump. The budget seeks to increase Pentagon spending by $52 billion and increases Homeland Security spending by at least 5 percent, with an emphasis on immigration enforcement. Conservative-leaning budget hawk groups such as the Concord Coalition dismissed the budget document as “not credible” in terms of deficit reduction, while the conservative Heritage Foundation noted a double counting of the revenue that the administration claims a tax cut would deliver. The double-counting error would amount to $2 trillion in higher deficits over 10 years. Effect on the state Examples of how President Trump’s budget plan would affect California and Bay Area: Bay Area Loss in aid to help cities prevent and respond to terrorism threats: $7 million California Loss in aid to local emergency food and shelter boards: $18,291,648 Loss in legal aid to the poor: $43,598,18 Loss with proposed elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts: $47,716,874 Loss with proposed elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities: $47,597,874 Loss in grants from Environmental Protection Agency: $30,889,589 Loss of block grants to produce affordable housing: $129,452,836 Loss in loans and grants to poor rural communities to improve drinking and wastewater treatment: $23,682,504 Loss from proposed elimination Low Income Energy Assistance program for the poor: $176,127,000 Source: House Budget Committee


This article was originally published online in the San Francisco Chronicle on May 23, 2017.