Child Poverty

The Trump budget is bad for children

March 18, 2019 | National

President Trump’s 2020 budget request landed with a thud this week, laden with deep cuts to programs that lift millions of children and their families out of poverty every year. In a moment of great prosperity, just more than a year after giving away $2 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy, the President has once again offered a draconian budget that would leave more children hungry, unhoused and uninsured.

The President has proposed cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) by $220 billion over the next decade, even though SNAP helped 19.2 million children avoid hunger in 2016 and kept 1.5 million children out of poverty in 2017. The President’s plan would take away recipients’ ability to choose the food that best suits their needs by converting their benefits to a box of food selected, packed and shipped by the government. It would also further expand work requirements despite huge bipartisan majorities in Congress rejecting such stringest requirements in the Farm Bill last year.

The President would also like to gut federal housing assistance, without which the child poverty rate would be roughly two percent higher according to a recent analysis by the National Academy of Sciences. The proposed 18 percent cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development would devastate programs that boost the affordable housing supply at a time when more families than ever face unsustainably high rents and inadequate housing. The budget would also harm families currently receiving rental assistance by increasing the amount of rent such families would have to pay and tightening work requirements.

Perhaps the deepest cuts of all would be to Medicaid, through which 37 million children receive health coverage. The President has proposed cuts of nearly $800 billion over the next decade by eliminating the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, replacing the program with an insufficient block grant to states and imposing work requirements on adults. These cuts would result in lost coverage for millions of Americans and plunge many families into poverty.

This cruel, ill-considered document doesn’t just strip away protections for the poorest children, it also makes deep cuts to higher education, public transportation and environmental protection all to cover the cost of:

  • Nearly $2 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals and corporations
  • A $33 billion boost to defense spending
  • $8.6 billion on a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border

As if to paper over the extraordinary damage this proposal would inflict on America’s poor children, the President proposed a one-time investment of $1 billion for states to build the supply of child care, but then made it conditional on rolling back basic protections for children. We won’t be fooled—this budget is a travesty and should be tossed aside by Congress as soon as it reaches the Capitol.