Commentary: GOP tax plan is a plot to strip benefits, and Americans aren’t pleased
By Neera Tanden
Donald Trump and his Republican allies in congress are trying to play the American people for saps. With the ink barely dry on the historically unpopular tax bill Congress passed last December, the White House has just released a budget that lays out how the President plans to cover up the $1.45 trillion hole his tax law will blow into the federal deficit. Trump plans to line the pockets of the rich by stealing from working and middle class Americans.
Republicans are already scrambling to downplay the budget’s significance. But it clearly outlines the priorities of their leader and Republican Party at large. While members of the GOP claimed that their unpopular tax cuts would pay for themselves, Democrats saw that they were nothing but a fox in the henhouse — and would lead to a corresponding set of devastating cuts in critical support that millions rely on. And last week, Trump proved the Democrats right by issuing a budget that contains drastic funding reductions for basic services such as health care, housing, and education.
The American public isn’t dumb. They realize that the President wants to dramatically cut these basic services in order to pay for his tax law. And for the first time, a new poll from the Center for American Progress (CAP) spells out exactly just how unpopular Trump’s cuts are. We asked voters to provide their opinions on many of the programs we expected to suffer in Trump’s budget — and we found that their level of disapproval was simply off the charts.
Two-thirds of the people we surveyed oppose cutting funding for government support that helps families put food on the table. Trump’s budget, on the other hand, would slash hundreds of billions of dollars from these kinds of initiatives — including $214 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps feed nearly 20 million children.
Nearly three-quarters of voters also stand against cuts to affordable housing. Trump’s budget, meanwhile, would eliminate $8.8 billion in funding for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). And while 78 percent of Americans disapprove of cuts to disability insurance, the President is looking to shrink federal disability programs by more than $72 billion over the next 10 years.
But perhaps the most pronounced finding from our poll is the huge and widespread popularity of Medicaid. An overwhelming 80 percent of Americans oppose any spending cuts to the program — including many of the President’s own voters. Although Trump promised not to touch Medicaid over and over during his presidential campaign, his latest budget would strip more than $300 billion away from it over the course of next decade.
Republicans aren’t fooling the American people, as a majority of voters believe that the primary motivation behind the President’s budget is paying for tax breaks for the wealthy. They recognize that Donald Trump and his allies simply don’t have the interests of working families at heart.
Instead of taking away critical support from millions of people, our nation needs to expand its investments for Americans who are currently struggling and striving. According to CAP’s survey, roughly 70 percent of voters say that their families have experienced serious financial hardship within the last year, and nearly half of them are having a hard time finding a decent job that pays them a good wage. This tremendous adversity impacts people of all backgrounds — regardless of whether they’re Democrats, Republicans, or Independents.
I understand firsthand how the government’s investments can transform lives. I was raised by a single, working parent who needed help to make ends meet. Although my mom held jobs as a travel agent and an office administrator, she couldn’t do it alone. We got food stamps to buy groceries and a Section 8 subsidy to stay in a neighborhood with good public schools — where I used vouchers to eat lunch every day. And while I worked hard to earn a better life for myself, my journey would not have been possible without the support we received.
I hope Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Congress realize that the President’s heartless budget proposal represents an unforgivable betrayal of the American people. There is nothing more tone deaf or foolhardy than continuing their efforts to take away health care, housing, and disability insurance from millions of people.
The tide in our country has already begun to turn against them. The Resistance has already started to reclaim our government in communities across the nation, as the President and his Republican allies struggle to sell their wildly unpopular tax bill. If the President and his allies keep pursuing their current path, our country’s voters will remember — and they will know whom to hold accountable.
Neera Tanden is the CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund