Understanding Trump’s Budget Proposal

Letter to constituents from Congressman Mike Capuano
7th District, Massachusetts
May 26, 2017

In March the Trump Administration released its budget blueprint for Fiscal Year 2018. This week, we got a lot more detail and most of it is just disastrous. This $4.1 trillion budget is so bad, it’s hard to know where to begin.

First, the whole budget is based on fuzzy math. There is a mistake in it to the tune of $2 TRILLION. Officials are using Trump’s proposed tax cuts as part of the equation, arguing they will produce some $2 trillion in economic growth. Since the tax cuts are supposed to be revenue neutral, that $2 trillion from projected (not guaranteed) economic growth covers the money lost by cutting taxes in the first place. It’s worth noting that the Trump budget projects $328 billion in revenue from the estate tax over ten years. But wait, his tax plan repeals the estate tax. So, if the Administration gets what it wants, the amount of revenue generated from that would actually be $0. If the Administration is going to use its tax plan in the budget, even though it hasn’t even been submitted to Congress let alone become law, they should at least be consistent.

The defense budget grows by $54 billion while non-defense spending is slashed by the same amount. As a reminder, the House-passed health care bill cuts $800 billion from Medicaid and uses it for corporate tax cuts and tax cuts for high income earners. The Administration cuts Medicaid in this budget another $610 billion. This is money that helps low-income families, our seniors and children. Taken together, these two proposals would cut Medicaid by $1.4 trillion!

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget is slashed by over $7 billion which represents almost 20% of its overall budget. Medical research, new treatments, initiatives to protect the public health and so much more would be severely underfunded.

Even though President Trump keeps promising an ambitious $1 trillion infrastructure plan, the Trump budget cuts $2.27 billion in transportation funds. The New Starts Program loses $928 million, or 43%. This money provides matching grants for state and local transit projects. The Green Line Extension is a New Start but it has been grandfathered in and will receive federal funding. However, it may well be the last project of its kind supported by the federal government if these numbers hold up. States and municipalities simply cannot fund transit expansion initiatives on their own.

Amtrak’s budget takes a big hit too, with a program supporting long distance lines losing 45% of its budget and the Northeast Corridor losing 28%. When these cuts are coupled with the elimination of Essential Air Service grants, many American communities would be without viable interstate transportation options.

So many programs and initiatives that help low income families are devastated in this budget. The Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit are cut by more than $40 billion.  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would lose close to $200 billion.

Education programs aren’t spared either. Various student loan and financial aid programs lose $143 billion over ten years. A college education is already far too expensive and this budget makes it worse. Foreign language studies, Gifted and Talented programs and even Special Olympics grant funding are all eliminated in this budget.

Not everything gets cut in Trump’s budget. $4.5 billion is added to the $19 billion immigration enforcement budget. This money will help implement the Administration’s new Executive Orders, dramatically expanding the already sizeable deportation force and network of immigrant detention centers around the country. There is also $1.6 billion for the ineffective “border wall” that Trump promised Mexico would pay to build.

The Environmental Protection Agency loses $2.4 billion or 30% of its budget. This will result in the elimination of over 3,500 jobs and the termination of dozens of programs. EPA grants to states are reduced by 44%.

Here is just a small sampling of the dozens of programs or agencies that will be dismantled under the Trump budget:

  • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, money communities can use for neighborhood improvement, affordable housing, Meals on Wheels and much more;
  • Low-Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which helps qualified families heat their homes in winter but also helps families cool their homes during dangerous heat waves;
  • TIGER grant program which helps states fund larger transportation projects;
  • National Endowment for the Arts;
  • National Endowment for the Humanities,
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting;
  • Minority Business and Development Agency;
  • Economic Development Administration;
  • Health Professions and Nursing Training Programs;
  • Transportation Security Agency Law Enforcement grants;
  • National Housing Trust Fund;
  • Essential Air Service grants which help rural airports offer limited commercial air service; without this program hundreds of small airports around the country will close and the related jobs will disappear too;
  • The Institute of Museum and Library Services which is the primary source of federal support for more than 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums;
  • The Child Care Access Means Parents in Schools program, which supports on-campus child care for low-income parents attending college

There is so much to be concerned about in this budget I could go on for days. It won’t become law as currently written but it is the best signal yet of what a “great America” looks like to the Trump Administration and it is very troubling.