Today, the Trump Administration unveiled their 4.75 Trillion dollar budget proposal, and it’s chock full of that signature brand of waste, fraud, and abuse Trump pledged to eliminate on the campaign trail.
It’s easy to get distracted by the President’s more outlandish scandals and statements, but his budget proposal is actually far more insidious.
This budget would be the U.S government’s largest ever, which wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t also such a morally bankrupt document.
It contains a 5% increase in defense spending the Pentagon has not requested and 8.6 billion for a border wall. Oh, and don’t forget he has to account for massive corporate tax cuts that made it possible for health insurance giants to avoid paying any federal taxes in 2018.
You can guess what he cut to offset those costs: a jaw-dropping $1.1 trillion in cuts to Medicaid and Medicare over the next decade.
It’s obvious what he’s attempting: Help the special interests loot our tax dollars, and then demand the most vulnerable Americans cover the difference.
Conservatives are supposedly committed to fiscal responsibility. I’m old enough to remember 3 years ago, when they claimed we simply couldn’t afford things like Medicaid expansion, or any program designed to actually help people.
Now, Trump and his conservative allies are weaponizing “fiscal responsibility” in order to force the poor, elderly, children, and the disabled to shoulder the cost of their massively irresponsible tax cut for the richest Americans.
It’s a tone deaf response to the people who voted Republicans out of the House of Representatives, largely because they were seen as a threat to Medicare.
And that new House majority has gotten to work on healthcare reform. Representatives Jayapal (D-WA) and Dingell (D-MI) have put up the most ambitious and comprehensive Medicare for All Bill in American history.
When they proposed their bill, which is the only effective way to actually fix our healthcare system, journalists and hostile politicians immediately demanded to know how we could possibly afford it (despite the fact that it would actually significantly reduce our national health care spending).
On the other hand, when Republicans decided to explode the deficit to offer a tax cut to wealthy people and corporations, very few people asked how they would pay for it. Now we have Trump’s answer: Do more damage to the healthcare system.
There’s no question that our current healthcare system isn’t working. But it’s also obvious that cutting trillions of dollars from programs that help the people that need it the most is not the answer.
Fortunately, there’s very little chance this budget will become law, thanks to the Democratic House. But a budget proposal is more than a dry policy document. It’s a reflection of values, and Trump has shown us who he is. Not the populist drainer of “the swamp” he claimed to be, but instead, a man out to defend the interest of the rich and powerful, no matter the cost to the rest of us.
Wendell Potter is the president of Business Initiative for Health Policy