Gloomy Capitol Hill


The GOP House Budget: Another Assault on People in Poverty
July 20, 2017

The evidence is crystal clear: The federal safety net is working.

By helping millions meet their basic needs, safety net programs allow children to avoid hunger, working adults to get to work, and many others to secure a decent standard of living. Last year alone, programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) combined to lift 38 million people out of poverty and helped millions more avoid financial hardship. In many cases, these programs lead to long-term gains for recipients and for our country. SNAP, for example, helps children grow up healthy and graduate from high school, and refundable tax credits allow families to save for and send their kids to college.

Put short: safety net programs don’t just help stave off material deprivation — they also serve as an engine of upward mobility.

But you wouldn’t know that from reading the House Budget Committee’s FY 2018 budget proposal, unveiled earlier this week.

Echoing the Trump Administration’s proposed budget, the House budget includes large cuts to crucial programs like federal food assistance as well as attacks — including work requirements — on other key programs that support financial security, such as tax credits for working families, housing assistance, and basic cash aid for needy families. Taking aim at the healthcare of millions, the budget would slash Medicare by nearly $500 billion over 10 years, and assumes massive cuts to Medicaid and other federal assistance for healthcare through repeal and replacement of health reform. Following its release, many claimed the Trump Administration’s budget and its draconian cuts would be dead before they even arrived on Capitol Hill. That was untrue then, and this framework suggests it is untrue now.

If implemented, the House budget would be devastating for working families and people living in poverty.

This budget would expose tens of millions of people to physical and financial ruin. Children would go without food. Working adults would lose crucial services. Rents would skyrocket. Seniors would be driven into poverty and lose healthcare. State governments around the country would suffer major fiscal blows. Local economies would contract. In short, the House budget imperils the long-term, shared benefits produced by safety net programs. And our country, the “land of opportunity for all,” would become a much less fair, just place.

And all of this comes in service of huge tax cuts for the wealthy.

This budget is nothing short of a continued attempt to redistribute income, wealth, and opportunity from the bottom of the income ladder towards the top. It is yet another reckless try at Robin-Hood-in-Reverse.

The release of the House FY 2018 budget comes on the heels of the most recent defeat of the Republicans’ healthcare agenda. And while the fight over healthcare is surely not over, Republican lawmakers should have by now learned a lesson from the widespread opposition to that plan.

Most Americans think everyone should have access to the basic necessities associated with a decent life, and they understand the crucial role that government has to play to ensure that happens.

This budget proposal is a threat to the quality of life of millions of children, seniors, and people with disabilities. It’s a threat to chances at upward mobility for working families all throughout this country. And it mocks the notion of America as a land of fairness and opportunity for all. Unless lawmakers would like to make our country much more harsh and much less fair, this proposal will not become law.

Trevor Brown contributed to this blog.