By Amelia Collins, Policy Analyst, NCLR
Next Tuesday, the Trump administration is expected to release its full fiscal year 2018 (FY18) budget request, which will be a blueprint for funding levels for federal programs. Many of those programs, like nutrition assistance for families, affordable housing initiatives, early childhood education opportunities, and Medicaid and Social Security, help millions of Americans.
If the “skinny budget” Trump released in March is any indication, the full Trump budget will gut programs that provide basic living standards for millions of low-income Americans to pay for tax cuts for millionaires, to increase defense spending, and to ramp up immigration enforcement by funding an unnecessary wall and a deportation force.
NCLR works to improve opportunities for the 56 million Hispanics in this country and the Trump budget would not only hurt our community, but all Americans who rely on programs that help them make ends meet or provide assistance when they fall on hard times. All signs point to Trump and congressional Republican budget proposals that would:
- Gut affordable housing initiatives to provide low-income working families with a roof over their heads—housing assistance kept nearly 700,000 Latinos out of poverty in 2015.
- Reduce funding for programs that help disadvantaged students enter and complete college—at least one fifth of participants in these programs are Latino.
- Slash money for child nutrition programs and take healthy school meals away from hungry kids—school lunch programs kept nearly half a million Latino kids out of poverty in 2015.
- End Medicaid as we know it, taking needed support away from some of our most vulnerable, including children, seniors in nursing homes, and people with severe disabilities—Latinos make up 31 percent of those enrolled in Medicaid.
Congress ultimately determines funding for the federal government and makes decisions on where investments should be made and which programs should be cut. Instead of jeopardizing basic living standards for Americans to give huge tax breaks to the wealthy, we strongly urge Congress to work toward a federal budget that embraces the following principles:
- Protects the most vulnerable from cuts—seniors, children, people with disabilities, and those living in poverty. These are particularly important to the Latino community, especially children, as they are more likely to live in poverty than other groups. Initiatives to help families afford food, housing, and health care; support education; and assist seniors and disabled people are crucial elements to a stable, healthy, and thriving community.
- Creates quality, well-paying jobs. Finding a good job that pays enough remains a top concern for Latinos, who continue to face rates of unemployment higher than the national average. Rather than cutting investments in workforce development, the federal budget should support infrastructure projects and job training programs. Investments should be equitable and benefit communities everywhere, including rebuilding public housing and schools, roads, water systems, and public transit.
- Helps workers get ahead. Many Latinos struggle to achieve basic living standards, as they face a debilitating wealth gap: the average Latino family has only 10 cents for every $1 of wealth held by a typical White family. Funding for programs offering paths to asset-building including homeownership and higher education can help close wealth gaps. Additionally, changes to the tax code should be inclusive, progressive, and equitable to increase benefits for low-income households to help promote financial stability and wealth-building for more people.
- Shares responsibility fairly for deficit reduction. Placing the burden of increased spending on the military and immigration enforcement on the backs of American families is wrong. The federal budget should instead aim to attain shared responsibility for reducing the deficit, with revenue coming from those who have yet to pay their proportionate share, including the wealthy and corporations. Latinos and other communities of color bore the brunt of spending cuts under sequestration and basic living standards for these communities should not be sacrificed for tax cuts for the rich.
President Trump campaigned on a promise to help working families, but his agenda laid out in the skinny budget clearly showed different priorities. Americans did not vote for threats to many of the basic living standards.
Congress should reject his funding priorities for America and should instead put the needs of everyday Americans first by investing in policies that create jobs, boost wages, support education and our workers, and give people a fair chance at a better future.