President Trump’s First Year: Budget Choices Reveal Upside-Down Priorities
To budget is to make choices reflecting fundamental values. Over the past 12 months, President Trump and Congressional Republicans have revealed a set of values that are in direct conflict with the wishes and priorities of the American people. Their budgetary agenda undermined health care for millions of Americans, sought deep cuts to investments in our national and economic security, and raised taxes for millions of hardworking Americans while ensuring the wealthy and corporations avoided paying their fair share. As the second year of his Presidency begins, Americans can expect more of the same: a betrayal of our families and communities in favor of the wealthy few, weakening the middle class and imposing serious hardship on those most in need, ultimately making America weaker.
Sabotage Health Care: President Trump and the Republican Congress began the year with an assault on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which would have taken health coverage away from more than 20 million Americans, increased costs, and weakened critical protections for people with pre-existing conditions. As Congressional Republicans repeatedly attempted and failed to repeal the law directly, the President took numerous actions to try to destabilize insurance markets, starting with his decision to cut the advertising budget for open enrollment by 90 percent. In the recently enacted GOP tax bill, Republicans repealed the individual mandate, which CBO projected would lead to double-digit premium increases in the individual market and 13 million fewer Americans with insurance. The budgets from both the President and Congressional Republicans also proposed cutting Medicaid by more than $1 trillion, which included not only repealing the ACA Medicaid expansion, but also reducing funding for the base program.
Disinvest in National and Economic Security: In late May, the President released a budget of irresponsible and deep spending cuts that would leave the country less safe and secure. By reducing non-defense discretionary funding for 2018 by $54 billion from the already inadequate austerity-level spending cap, the President’s budget called for unprecedented cuts to investments needed to boost jobs and innovation, generate broad-based prosperity, and support security efforts both at home and abroad. It abandoned families, rural America, and the states and localities he promised to protect. Similar to the Congressional Republican plans for non-defense discretionary funding, these cuts only got worse as time goes on—by 2027, the President’s budget provided only $367 billion, a $152 billion reduction from 2017. Republicans’ failure to recognize the need to adequately fund non-defense investments has held up the passage of full-year appropriations bills and forced the government to operate under continuing resolutions, an outcome that all agree does not serve our nation well.
Raise Middle-Class Taxes to Prop up Millionaires and Corporations: The recently enacted GOP tax scam left no doubt that the President and Congressional Republicans put their wealthy donors before the middle class. Their fiscally irresponsible bill gave massive tax cuts to millionaires and corporations, while raising taxes on more than 90 million middle-class families by 2027. Over the next decade, it will increase the deficit by more than $1.5 trillion, with 80 percent of the benefits going to the top 1 percent.
Missed Opportunities: The failure to pursue policy changes is just as revealing as those that were pushed to the top of the agenda. Republicans continue to ignore the priorities of hardworking Americans, with no realistic plans to tackle sky-high drug costs, college accessibility, or our country’s crumbling roads and bridges.
Next Up: Target Benefits American Families Rely On: As the President’s second year begins, Republicans remain committed to their three-step plan to give to the rich, which results in skyrocketing deficits, and then make everyone else pay for it. American families deserve better.