US Budget will slash aid programmes for the poor

Trump voter Ruben Gonzalez (left) with his brother-in-law, Mr Robert Rodriguez, at the family home in Robstown, Texas. Mr Gonzalez says he regrets voting for President Trump, who is proposing to cut the Community Development Block Grant programme, wh
Trump voter Ruben Gonzalez (left) with his brother-in-law, Mr Robert Rodriguez, at the family home in Robstown, Texas. Mr Gonzalez says he regrets voting for President Trump, who is proposing to cut the Community Development Block Grant programme, which helped to improve the water his family uses.PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump's US$4.1 trillion (S$5.7 trillion) Budget for 2018 would cut deeply into programmes for the poor that range from healthcare and food stamps to student loans and disability payments, laying out an austere vision for reordering the United States' priorities.

The document, grandly titled "A New Foundation for American Greatness" and unveiled on Tuesday, encapsulates much of the "America First" message that powered Mr Trump's election campaign.

It calls for an increase in military spending of 10 per cent, spending of more than US$2.6 billion on border security - including US$1.6 billion to begin work on a wall on the border with Mexico - as well as huge tax reductions and an improbable promise of 3 per cent economic growth.

The wildly optimistic projections balance Mr Trump's Budget, at least on paper, even though the proposal makes no changes to Social Security's retirement programme or Medicare, the two largest drivers of the nation's debt.

To compensate, the package contains deep cuts in entitlement programmes that would hit hardest many of the economically strained voters whose backing propelled the President into office.

Over the next decade, it calls for the slashing of more than US$800 billion from Medicaid, the federal health programme for the poor, while slicing US$192 billion from nutritional assistance and US$272 billion overall from welfare programmes. Domestic programmes outside military and homeland security, whose budgets are determined annually by Congress, would also take a hit, their funding falling by US$57 billion, or 10.6 per cent.

The plan would cut by more than $72 billion the disability benefits on which millions of Americans rely. It would eliminate loan programmes that subsidise college education for the poor and those who take jobs in government or nonprofit organisations.

"It probably is the most conservative Budget that we've had under Republican or Democrat administrations in decades," said Representative Mark Meadows, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2017, with the headline 'US Budget will slash aid programmes for the poor'. Print Edition | Subscribe