The headline said it clearly, “Budget Cuts Deeply Into Medicaid and Anti-Poverty Efforts.” President Donald Trump’s budget for 2018 should be described as a war on the poor.
Budgets are political documents. If you want to know what elected officials really stand for, read and analyze their budgets. Budgets are blueprints; they show us the kind of communities that are being constructed.
The Trump 2018 budget is the most radical any modern president has ever proposed. The blueprints shows steep cuts in basic health, nutrition, housing, job training, and other assistance for tens of millions of struggling low, and moderate income Americans.
In St. Paul 67,000 live in poverty
To make the budget alive and real, I think of my city, St. Paul. More than 67,000 people are living in poverty, 24 percent of the population. 25,000 are children and thousands more live just above the federal poverty guidelines. I picture the faces of my neighbors in McDonough, Frogtown and at Listening House.
What is in the budget? It supports the House bill’s approach to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and take health insurance away from 23 million people, and proposes at least $610 billion in additional Medicaid cuts.
The Trump budget would cut Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANIF, or MFIP in Minnesota) by $22 billion. There would be substantial cuts in job training that would weaken training opportunities for workers needing to upgrade their skills. $72 billion would be cut from disability programs, which provide support to poor seniors and people with disabilities.
Cuts in SNAP, student loans
The destruction continues with over $190 billion slashed over the next decade for SNAP (food stamps). Over that same period of time student loans would be cut by $143 billion, even though today’s college students are already having difficulty financing their educations.
The 14 percent cut to HUD’s budget is the most drastic cut in affordable housing since President Reagan’s budget cuts, which led to modern homelessness. Seniors who benefit from the Low Income Heating Emergency Assistance program will lose this vital resource, which has also been slashed in the Trump budget.
What can we do? We can do the obvious and contact our representative and senators, but we can do more. Some of our best strategies to address big issues are those created and implemented at the local level. We can become involved with these organizations that are having an impact on reducing the number of people living in poverty. The proposed budget cuts will seriously jeopardize these efforts. We need to help them navigate this tumultuous sea.
Organizations we should help
Here are some good examples of the kind of organizations we should pitch in and help. Reflect on your experience in the community and come up with your list.
Homes for All, a statewide coalition that advances shared policy initiatives that lead to housing stability for all Minnesotans. This year the coalition requested $80 million in Housing Infrastructure bonds and $20 million in General Obligation bonds to create and ensure affordable housing. The Legislature passed $77 million in bonding for housing, 2.5 times increase above the original proposal introduced this session.
Aeon serves more than 4,500 people in 40 affordable homes and townhouses.
CommonBond Communities provides affordable housing; develops, owns or manages more than 5,600 affordable housing units throughout 50 cities in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. More than 10,000 people call CommonBond home.
College Possible is making college admission and success possible for low-income students through intensive curriculum of coaching and support. This year 30,000 students across the country are participating; 98 percent of the students are admitted.
Higher Ground Saint Paul, operated by Catholic Charities, provides emergency shelter and permanent supportive housing for men and women.
The Jeremiah Program and Minneapolis Crisis Nursery are joining together to reach more families impacted by crisis and trauma.
We should say “no” to the Trump budget here and in Washington, and we should also support successful initiatives in our communities.
Jim Scheibel, a former mayor of St. Paul, is professor of practice in the Management, Marketing and Public Administration Department, Hamline University. He is a former director of both AmeriCorps VISTA and the Senior Corps.
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