By Sen. Bernie Sanders
President Trump’s budget is morally obscene and bad economic policy. It would cause devastating economic pain to tens of thousands of Vermonters making it harder for our children to get a decent education, harder for our working families to get the health care they desperately need, harder to protect our environment, and harder for the elderly to live out their retirement years in dignity.
Sadly, it follows in the footsteps of the Trump-Ryan health care bill, which gives massive tax breaks to the people on top, while throwing 23 million Americans off of their health insurance and dramatically raising premiums for older workers.
This is a budget that says that if you are the richest family in America, the Walton family of Wal-Mart, you can get a tax break of up to $52 billion through the repeal of the estate tax. But, at the same time, it says that if you are a lower income senior citizen in Vermont, you and 21,000 other Vermont families will not be able to keep your home warm in the winter because the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) would be abolished.
This is a budget that says that if you are the second wealthiest family in America, the Koch brothers family, a family that has contributed many hundreds of millions into the Republican Party, you may get a tax break of up to $38 billion. But at the same time, if you are a working class student in Vermont trying to figure out how you could possibly afford college, your dream of a college education could disappear along with over 20,000 other Vermonters through the elimination of a number of student financial assistance programs.
It is a budget that says that if you are a member of the Trump family, you may receive a tax break of up to $4 billion, but if you are a child of a working class family in Vermont, you and 100,000 other Vermonters could lose the health insurance you currently have through massive cuts to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid.
At a time when over 40 million Americans are struggling with hunger, the Trump budget would eliminate nutrition assistance to 2,800 pregnant women, new moms, babies, and toddlers in Vermont through a 23 percent cut to the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. An additional 21,000 Vermonters would no longer receive the supplemental nutrition assistance they need to feed their families.
The Trump budget would cut-off affordable housing assistance to more than 700 Vermont families, putting them at risk of eviction and homelessness. It would cut Head Start in Vermont by $1.7 million, which could throw 140 low-income children off high-quality child care and early education. It would kick 7,100 students in Vermont off of after-school programs.
Meanwhile, at a time of massive wealth and income inequality, President Trump would provide a $3 trillion tax break to the top 1 percent over a 10-year period. This is the Robin Hood principle in reverse – taking from the poor and working people and giving to the very rich.
When Donald Trump campaigned for president, he told the American people that he would be a different type of Republican. That he would take on the political and economic establishment. That he would stand up for working people. That he understood the pain that families all over this country were feeling.
Sadly, this budget exposes all of that verbiage for what it really was — just cheap campaign rhetoric that was meant to get votes — nothing more than that.
The budget that President Trump has proposed would break virtually every promise he made to the working people of this country. During the campaign, candidate Trump promised not to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
But now that he is president, Donald Trump has proposed a budget and health care bill that would slash Medicaid by more than $1 trillion, raid the Medicare fund by more than $125 billion, and make massive cuts to Social Security for people who have severe disabilities, children who have lost their parents, and the poor.
The economic theory embraced by the Trump budget, trickle-down economics, is and it has always been an abysmal failure and a fraud. This is a budget written by the billionaire class and is designed to benefit the billionaire class. Nothing more. Nothing less.
President Trump’s budget must be soundly defeated and replaced with a budget that meets the needs of working families, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor — not just the 1 percent.
Bernie Sanders represents Vermont in the United States Senate.