ASA leadership firmly rejected President Trump’s 2019 budget proposal today, denouncing the bleak vision of the future envisioned by a budget that would mean even further erosion in standards of living for tens of millions of vulnerable and low-income Americans. Over the next ten years, the Administration proposes to reduce non-defense discretionary spending by a staggering 42.3 percent—which would reduce federal spending as a share of GDP to levels not seen since the Hoover era.
Having just passed a so-called “tax reform” measure that will improve the incomes of the richest Americans, the 2019 Trump budget proposal provides a further slap in the face to older people on fixed incomes, people with disabilities, and just about anyone else who might need a safety-net support. The budget proposes elimination of these vital programs:
- The Social Services Block Grant program, which allocated more than $1.5 billion to states and territories to support social services for vulnerable children, adults and families, and is the only source of federal funding for states' APS programs.
- The Community Development Block Grant, that has been continuously administered since 1974 through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
- The Community Services Block Grant, a $700 million anti-poverty initiative.
- The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program, which was allocated $3.39 billion in FY 2017 to ensure vulnerable people have continuous access to safe and affordable home energy.
- The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), the only federal program directly aiding low income older workers.
- The Medicare State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), which provides Medicare beneficiaries with information, counseling, and enrollment assistance.
- The Commodity Supplemental Food Program, a food-assistance program specifically for low-income elders.
In addition to these radical cuts, which would be devastating to the millions of Americans reliant upon the modest assistance these programs afford, the Administration’s 2019 budget proposal goes further and proposes deep cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps): the Administration seeks to cut $213 billion from this program over 10 years. And, at least 4 million low-income people would lose eligibility for benefits altogether under the Administration’s proposed changes. The Administration also looks to replace nearly $30 billion in direct assistance to low-income people to purchase groceries with a box of non-perishable foods. The Administration also looks for other ways to restrict and limit SNAP eligibility in ways that are plainly mean-spirited and counter-productive from a policy perspective: current research links SNAP with improved health outcomes and lower health care costs.
Medicare and Medicaid also face cuts. The budget proposes:
- Medicare savings of close to $500 billion over 10 years accomplished through changes to payments for hospitals for uncompensated care, cuts to nursing homes and home health agencies, and cuts to Medicare Advantage and to teaching hospitals for graduate medical education.
- A 22.5% cut to Medicaid and ACA insurance subsidies by 2028. The Medicaid expansion provided by the Affordable Care Act would be eliminated.
ASA Board Chair Bob Blancato observed that “This budget has been denounced on a bi-partisan basis in Congress. It stands virtually no chance of being adopted as presented. Fortunately, before this horrific budget proposal was released, a more progressive, bi-partisan, two-year budget deal was passed by Congress, and that will likely prevail.” ASA Public Policy Committee Chair Bill Benson also noted that even with the recent legislation protecting funding for some major domestic programs, total NDD spending would still be 11% below 2010 levels in FY 2018. “The Administration is making a blatant effort to ‘soak the poor’ with this budget,” Benson said. “ASA members and everyone who care about a compassionate and just society will mobilize to prevent this budget from ever being implemented.”