President Trump's new budget unveiled Monday provides clearly demonstrates his priorities and highlights perhaps his biggest lie of them all. Just follow the money.
By slashing programs for health care, housing, the elderly, education, students, the environment, Trump's new budget seeks to cover the outrageous increase in the federal budget deficit caused by his tax cuts that mostly benefited the wealthy and the big corporations. At the same time, it seeks another $8.6 billion for his cherished border wall.
If the president had his way...
Trump’s 10-year budget calls for more than $845 billion in reductions for Medicare, aiming to cut “waste, fraud and abuse” in the federal program that provides health insurance to older Americans. While it doesn't actually propose to cut benefits, it would slash payments to hospitals and health care providers who already are paid less than the going rate when they take care of Medicare patients.
What would that mean? Fewer doctors and fewer hospitals would accept Medicare patients, which would make it more difficult for them to obtain care.
His budget would turn Medicaid, which provides coverage for low income Americans, into a block grant program, with money going to states who would then decide what, or what not, to cover. What do you think would happen in those Republican-led states that already refused to participate in Medicaid expansion authorized by the Affordable Care Act? More people would be forced to go to hospital emergency rooms for care, placing even more burdens on hospitals that are already strapped for cash.
Social Security? Trump's budget calls for slashing Social Security spending by $26 billion, including whacking $10 billion from the Social Security Disability Insurance Program.
Now for his big lie.
In announcing his presidential bid in June 2015, Trump said he would “save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts.” He added that it was “not fair” to make cuts to a program that people had been paying into for many years, and that he would save it “by making us rich again” and cutting waste, fraud and abuse.
That sounded great to those who were becoming true believers. It's exactly what they wanted to hear. Trump would work his magic and everything would be fine. But today, if they follow the money they'll realize that was just one big con.
Some of his other budget proposals are not at all surprising. They would:
Slash the Environmental Protection Agency by massive amounts. The nation's renewable energy program would be gutted. Who needs clean air and water anyway when we can have more fossil fuels contaminating the environment and exacerbating climate change? Oh, wait. That doesn't exist, so why do we need the EPA anyway?
Cut funds by 16.4 percent for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, slashing support for public housing. The budget also eliminates many federal block grant programs that local communities depend on, including the Community Development Block Grant program, HOME Investment Partnerships, the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, and the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity program.
Slash 22 percent from the Department of Transportation, It would cut funding for new transit projects by 39 percent and slash funding for Amtrak by 23 percent — even as it raises highway spending. Take that, California.
While Trump's budget was filled with lies and half-truths, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Democrats control the House of Representatives thanks to the November elections and Republicans, even if they wanted to, couldn't get it passed.
So while his budget plan isn't important from a practical standpoint, it does demonstrate just where Trump's priorities lie. And that's not in supporting the needs of average, everyday Americans, including many of those who are still true believers. Instead, it's in playing the big dog with massive increases in defense and homeland security (read that "keep the Latinos out) and in financing his self-created budget sink hole.
It's also important because it gives Democrats an arsenal of weapons to use in the 2020 campaign.
Bring it on.