Matter of Fact – Guest op-ed: A price to pay
BY JAY BROWN
The beginning of the year means budget proposals. Last month, the mayor and governor released their plans, and de Blasio criticized Cuomo for recommendations that would shift more Medicaid costs to municipalities and slash billions of dollars in aid to the 62 counties across the state.
This past Monday, President Trump presented his budget proposal. Despite repeated promises not to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, including in last week’s State of the Union speech, his plan calls for slashing nearly $900 billion from Medicaid, half a trillion dollars from Medicare, and $25 billion from Social Security.
Public education would be cut by eight percent and $7 billion would be slashed from the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which currently provides health coverage to nearly 10 million children who would otherwise not have any.
The notion that this is just a typical conservative budget, in which choices are made to curb excessive taxing and spending, is betrayed by Trump’s own plans related to taxation and expenditures.
The corporate tax cuts that the president and GOP-led Congress rushed though in late 2017, before the newly-elected Democratic majority in the House could be sworn in, costs the federal government $100 billion for each one percent reduction. Since they slashed that rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, it reduces revenue by $1.4 trillion dollars yearly.
As for spending, even though the Defense Department recently asked for $705.4 billion, which would be $13 billion less than what it received last year, as has been the case every year during Trump’s presidency, he is calling for much more than what the Pentagon wants. Trump has proposed an increase to $740.5 billion, which is over $35 billion more than the military has requested.
Being that current U.S. military expenditures are more than the next seven countries combined, the needless increase the Pentagon doesn’t want is merely a chest-thumping gimmick.
In cases like the F-35 fighter jet or the Abrams battle tank, since the military has repeatedly said that it does not need them and most sit unused after they are purchased, they are simply a form of corporate welfare, in which our government promises to hand over taxpayer money to military contractors for equipment we have no intention of using.
Another needless expenditure in Trump’s proposal is $2 billion for his border wall. That would bring the total cost to $20.4 billion, which is $20.4 billion more than what taxpayers were told they would need to kick in for a project he promised Mexico would pay for.
This budget is as cruel as it is foolish. At a time when there have already been over 43,000 coronavirus cases and over 1,000 deaths worldwide, Trump’s budget would reduce funding for the CDC by 16 percent and slash half of our annual funding to the World Health Organization. On the very day he released this proposal, more than 100 people died from the virus and when he was asked about it, he replied, “A lot of people think that goes away in April, with the heat.”
Budgets are as much moral statements as they are a set of financial figures. If you knew a family in which the head of the household decided that he or she would set a family budget in which the kids would have cut back on school supplies, a grandparent who lives with the family would no longer be afforded enough money to pay for all of his or her prescription drugs, and everyone had to limit doctor’s visits for the year — with the savings used to pay for a new home security system that is in addition to the two already installed — you’d likely question those decisions on moral grounds.
This is not fake news. It is President’s Trump’s budget wish list and it is in black and white. He’s telling us all that he’s going to build a wall, but your Social Security and Medicare are going to pay for it. The only thing preventing this budget from becoming reality is the fact his party lost control of the House of Representatives in 2018, which is something to keep in mind when you cast your vote in 2020.
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