Massive budget cuts 'compassionate' to taxpayers: White House budget director
The Trump administration unveils its budget proposal, which slashes social programs and, as a bonus, redefines "compassion."
Today, the Trump administration unveiled its proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which White House budget director Mick Mulvaney dubbed the "Taxpayer First" budget. He did not specify which taxpayers — but that soon became clear.
Trump's budget would cut $880 million from Medicaid, $129 billion from the food-stamp program (which benefits 44 million people) and $143 billion from student loan programs over the next 10 years. Programs on the environment, cancer research and Head Start, among others, would also be cut. Simultaneously, the budget would eliminate the estate tax, drop top tax rates on businesses and individuals, and eliminate the Obama-era surcharge on investments.
When reporters challenged these cuts to social programs, Mulvaney defended them not only as necessary, but repeatedly as "compassionate." “You have to have compassion for folks who are receiving the federal funds, but also you have to have compassion for folks who are paying it,” he stated.
This did not go over so well. "It's a 'reverse Robin Hood agenda,'” wrote the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which advocates for low-income individuals.
Because the administration only distributed a one-page summary of the tax plan, reporters, financial experts, Wall Street analysts and members of Congress were able to disapprove more quickly than usual. The budget has drawn bipartisan eye-rolling. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, both pronounced the plan dead on arrival.
The irony of the proposed budget cuts was not lost on many: They would wallop the lower- and middle-income brackets, many of whom supported Trump because of his promises of an economic rescue. "The Trump administration is strongly defending this as a 'taxpayer first' budget. But it's a mystery whether a typical American family will be any better off under Trump," reports Heather Long at CNN Money. "There's so little detail that even tax policy experts can't figure out if the middle class gains or loses. What is known so far is that the wealthy — including Trump himself — would likely pay a lot less in taxes."
These were not the only hiccups that developed over the budget today: A reporter from Russia's Sputnik news service pointed out that it would cut services to Americans who were children of immigrants, and a financial reporter pointed out that the budget contained a $2 trillion double-counting error — which essentially invalidated the entire thing.