Opinion | Muftic: Trump’s cruel 2019 budget a gift for Democrats
Trump’s budget is a gift to Democrats who hope to defeat him in 2020. This is a cruel budget enacted in the wake of tax cuts to the rich that failed to trickle down to many in the middle class.
Democrats can cite it as what he would do in his second term and use their contrasting positions to turn off a wide-ranging number of voters that propelled Trump to victory in 2016. If we have learned from Donald Trump’s first term so far, he takes his campaign promises very seriously and pulls no punches to make good on them, so voters should not just dismiss his budget as just a wish list. It is an action plan for his second term.
With Democrats in control of the House and the purse strings, this 2019 White House budget is dead on arrival. Aside from his request for $8 billion more to build the wall, there is plenty of grist in his budget mill to rile even some of his most ardent supporters. Most impacted by cuts are seniors, those on Medicaid, and Social Security and the disabled
He had to reverse eliminating all federal support of the Special Olympics because of public outcry. That was not all his Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos had, oops, proposed. She cut her department’s budget by over seven billion dollars to offset cuts to programs that help low-income students and after-school programs and then asked for five billion dollars in tax credits to encourage scholarships to private schools, her pet agenda. The 2019 budget proposal includes cutting out the student loan forgiveness program and taking a chunk out of student loans.
Trump must have it in for the disabled. It is already very difficult to get Social Security disability support now, but he would make it even harder. His proposal would “save” $72 billion over ten years from that program by making it even harder to qualify. Also getting budget cuts are Meals on Wheels and programs related to autism and other developmental disabilities.
In 2016, Trump’s voter advantage included seniors and soon to be seniors. He garnered 53% of their vote of over age 50 in 2016 per AARP polls. In 2018 midterms, the bloom was off that rose a bit. He carried that block in the 2018 midterms by 50% vs. 49% per a Pew Research polling of over the 45 plus crowd. Like the AARP findings, both soon to be an already plus 65% vote in the same percentages. Now, in 2019, he is touching that third rail and he is likely to get burned in 2020. His 2019 budget proposes to cut over $456 billion over 10 years from Medicare, using that old sleight of hand GOP trope: it will just come out of waste. That “waste” claim has only ever been as good as a ghost hunt.
Democrats can make hay with their forever and consistent support of Medicare, while GOP loves to call it socialism from its inception to now. Whatever you call it, per a recent Marist poll, 60% of Americans would rather hike taxes on the rich than cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Only 21% favor cuts of those programs to balance the budget.
Seventy percent of Americans even support certain versions of Medicare for All. If anything, we are likely to see Medicare greatly expanded to younger folks or become a public option in Obamacare. Totally replacing the existing health care insurance system with Medicare for All polls much lower and tanks if private insurers are eliminated. The Kaiser Foundation has the most current poll figures.
Notice that his 2019 budget ignores the issue of affordable health care insurance, a total disregard to his 2016 promises to replace Obamacare with something wonderful. That great replacement is one promise he has failed to keep. His support of the repeal without a comparable replacement of Obamacare legislation went down in flames with Sen. John McCain’s thumbs down vote in the Senate in 2017. The GOP proposed replacement left many out, including those with pre-existing conditions. To wrong that right, the President’s executive orders in the meantime have striven to undermine the fiscal stability of Obamacare, and the revolt by voters was the single largest factor in the historic loss of Republican House seats in history.
The cost of health insurance was identified in multiple polls as voters’ single public policy issue determining their vote in the midterms. The Trump 2019 budget changed nothing. However, to do an end-run around Congress, Trump is supporting court actions that would kill Obamacare entirely, from covering pre-existing conditions, rolling back Medicaid, and eliminating subsidies through the exchanges. Now we hear he wants to make the GOP the hero and ride in with a promise, but no plan. We have heard that one before, and before, and before. Having been burned in the 2018 midterms, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has let Trump know Congress will not help Trump come up with a plan.
Donald Trump’s 2016 strongest support came from the Midwest agriculture sector. His trade was with China hit the soybean/pork farmers in their gut since a third of their market was overseas and China retaliated by finding non-US suppliers. Trump then found $7 billion of taxpayer money to subsidize their losses and in the 2019 budget, he proposes to cut agriculture subsidies by 15% and reducing subsidies for insurance premiums.
Democrats are already smelling ag sector political blood in terms of pork bellies and long-term grain market loss.
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