A bizarre budget that deserves to be DOA
Laredo’s Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar is the among the least partisan members of Congress.
In an age marked by extreme partisan polarization, Cuellar successfully works with both sides of the aisle.
FiveThirtyEight, a statistical analysis website, reported that as of May 18, Cuellar’s House votes lined up with Republican President Donald Trump’s positions 71 percent of the time.
Cuellar has that bold voting record despite the fact that his district is deep blue.
But the Texan certainly doesn’t agree with Trump’s 2018 budget priorities. Nor is his disagreement just a matter of degree. He obviously finds the proposed budget highly offensive.
In a prepared statement, Cuellar said, “The president has proposed a bizarre, ideological budget.
“His reckless cuts would cut thriving and successful programs to pay for tax cuts for millionaires instead of the small businesses that really need them. He wants to slash basic programs that keep Texas drinking water clean, stop diseases from spreading and care for vulnerable seniors.
“Of the areas with the greatest percentage of residents on food stamps, seven out of 10 voted for President Trump, hoping he would help them achieve a better life. Yet instead of investing in economic opportunities, he is threatening to make even less food available to our poorest families — including his voters,” Cuellar said.
Cuellar’s passionate criticism of Trump is accurate. Trump’s budget proposal is outrageous on many levels, and the president deserved the kick in the pants from the centrist congressman.
Of course, the good news is a president’s proposed budget is never approved as presented. And Trump’s fiscal 2018 plan will not be an exception because Congress controls the budgeting process.
When Trump’s budget document was unveiled, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas was widely quoted as saying that presidential budgets are “basically dead on arrival.”
Still, every administration’s budget proposals get heavy media coverage and spark a lot of debate. And with the Republican Party in control of the House and Senate, major budget cuts would seem likely.
Trump’s budget will remain notable because it is markedly brutal toward those in the nation’s lower economic ranks.
Trump wants to cut $616 billion from Medicaid over the next decade, and that would be added to the $800 million in Medicaid cuts in the House’s health care bill, which the president energetically promoted. Even Republican governors will be fighting the deep slashes.
The president’s budget also calls for $192 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program over 10 years. The Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities noted that 1.6 million Texas households rely on SNAP.
Then come the proposed $72 billion in disability cuts. Some 617,000 Texans receive Social Security disability payments, CPPP reported.
In a blog on the organization’s website, CPPP Executive Director Ann Beeson wrote that Trump’s budget would “shift massive costs to Texas at a time when our state is not able to meet the need for education and other critical services Texans rely on.”
Meanwhile, Trump wants to spend $2.6 billion for border security, including $1.6 billion to partially fund a border fence, and he would increase defense spending by 10 percent.
Trump’s tax cuts for the rich likely would total at least $5.5 billion over 10 years if approved by Congress.
And his proposed budget includes the assumption that the economy will grow at an average of 3 percent annually over the next 10 years, which independent economists are saying is outrageously optimistic.
Trump has dived into what former President George H.W. Bush would call voodoo economics. The assumption that tax cuts are revenue neutral has been proven wrong repeatedly.
Republican lawmakers in competitive House districts will be running from Trump’s budget faster than scalded dogs when the president’s proposals are discussed in 2018.