CHN: The Trump FY19 Federal Budget Slashes Critical Human Needs Programs
The Trump administration released its Fiscal Year 2019 budget request on Monday, Feb. 12. The budget blueprint was crafted before the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 was finalized on Feb. 9, so the original budget adheres to austere sequestration-level spending caps. Because the budget deal that passed last week raised these spending caps for FY18 and FY19, the Office of Management and Budget, the department responsible for the Trump administration budget, also released on Feb. 12 an addendum for spending some of the additional money allowed under the new deal for these two years. However, even with the addendum, the White House proposed to spend $57 billion less than the new agreement allows for FY 2019, providing lower funding than Congress did for priorities such as child care and other domestic needs. After 2019, the president’s budget calls for even deeper cuts to domestic and international non-defense programs.
The original proposed budget, before the addendum, would slash domestic/international appropriations from 3.1 percent of GDP to 1.2 percent in 2028. Entitlement programs, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, would be cut by $1.66 trillion over a decade. Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income, which provide aid to low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities, would be cut by $72 billion over 10 years (for specifics on SSI and SSDI cuts, see this piece from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities). From slashing housing assistance, Medicaid, SNAP/food stamps, college work-study, and other basic needs programs, to proposing work requirements for several federal programs, to completely eliminating programs like home heating and cooling assistance for low-income people and food packages for low-income seniors, the President Trump’s FY19 budget would leave millions of Americans without the assistance they need. On the other hand, the budget for the Pentagon would increase by 13 percent in FY19 compared to FY17.
The budget would seriously weaken the federal capacity to respond to our nation’s problems by cutting the federal workforce. In addition, there are a number of proposals to reduce benefits for federal employees or increase their share of the cost. There would be a gradual increase in the federal worker’s payments towards the retirement system, expected to save $68.7 billion over 10 years. Retirement benefits would be cut over time by reducing or eliminating cost of living increases, a 10-year benefit cut of $83.7 billion.
While the President’s budget as a whole does not move through Congress or become law, it is a statement of priorities from the White House. As CHN’s Feb. 12 statement notes, the cuts in the budget “show the priorities of the President: slash programs needed by people with low incomes in order to shift resources to the Pentagon and to corporations and high-income people benefiting from the tax cuts.” Even as some members of President Trump’s own party reject his budget, some proposals it contains are ones advocates have seen before from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and previous House GOP budgets, and they may be a sign of proposals to come in future budgets and spending bills. Advocates have committed to fighting proposals like these that will harm low-income families and individuals.
A note on budget terminology: throughout these articles, you will see references to the two main categories of federal spending: “discretionary” and “mandatory.” Discretionary spending refers to those programs that require annual appropriations by Congress. Most defense, education, and housing fall into this category, plus many social service, environmental and community development programs. Mandatory spending includes programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP/food stamps, and other basic safety net programs that do not require annual appropriations. Instead, Congress authorizes the way they spend money by legislation. Congress can cut or expand these programs by amending the legislation that authorizes them.
While there are too many program cuts and problematic policy changes to mention in this piece, CHN has tried to compile those most damaging to low-income people from the select agency budgets that follow. In addition to the specific resources called out in these articles, please visit CHN’s FY19 budget resource page throughout the budget and appropriations process for more information and newly added resources.