Trump budget targets programs that protect children
By Matthew Molloy
Jun 21, 2017 at 6:00 AM
When the Trump administration released its Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal last month, it was titled "A New Foundation for American Greatness." To the contrary, the budget seeks to dismantle the foundational programs that make America great and keep Americans safe and healthy with deep cuts proposed to Medicaid, anti-poverty programs, education support and biomedical research. As a pediatrician, I am appalled that these cuts disproportionately impact children.
Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program could see their budget cut nearly in half over the next decade. The budget includes over $610 billion in cuts to Medicaid and CHIP on top of more than $800 billion in cuts included in the American Health Care Act, the GOP plan to repeal and replace key elements of Affordable Care Act that has already passed the House. Thanks to Medicaid and CHIP, the proportion of uninsured children has fallen to a record low of about 6 percent. Close to 40 percent of children depend on these bipartisan programs for access to life-saving medical care. Rolling back these programs will have devastating consequences on America's sickest and most vulnerable children.
President Donald Trump's budget proposal would cut funding for after school porgrams that serve poor students nationwide.
The budget also targets important anti-poverty programs crucial to providing children a healthy environment. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is the largest child nutrition program and provides important nutrition benefits to nearly a quarter of all American children. The SNAP program has been shown to lift families out of poverty, reduce food insecurity and improve both health and school performance in children. The Trump administration has proposed a $190 billion cut to this vital program, which would make it much harder for poor American families to put food on the table. In addition, the budget proposes cuts to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and changes to the Earned Income Tax Credit, shown to be one of the most effective programs at lifting children out of poverty. Dismantling these programs will deepen the already alarming level of childhood poverty in our wealthy country in order to fund generous tax cuts for the highest earners.
Students would also suffer under the proposed budget. The Trump Administration is seeking to eliminate subsidized federal student loans, eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program for new borrowers, and gut the federal work-study program.
These cuts would worsen the already staggering student debt crisis faced by the next generation of Americans, putting a college education out of reach for many of our most promising youths.
Federal agencies would see almost across-the-board cuts. Among the most deeply impacted are those involved in public health and biomedical research. These cuts threaten the health and wellbeing of our nation's children. The Environmental Protection Agency helps ensure the quality and safety of the water our children drink and the air our children breath. The EPA would be most impacted by the Trump administration's proposal, seeing its budget cut by nearly a third. The CDC seeks to protect children from disease outbreaks like the recent measles outbreaks and provides countless other public health programs to keep kids safe. It would see its funding cut by $1.3 billion.
The NIH forms the backbone for biomedical research in our country, leading to new innovations in treating childhood cancers and keeping premature babies alive. It would see its funding cut by $6 billion.
The Trump administration's Fiscal Year 2018 budget, if enacted, would have real and catastrophic effects on American children. They would lose health insurance and access to life-saving medical care. Many children would lose access to food and go to bed hungry. More families with children would fall into poverty. Students would find themselves unable to afford an education. The government programs and agencies we trust to protect our health would not have the resources to do so. This does not make America great. This makes America sick. This makes America poor. This makes the American dream unattainable for our children. As Congress begins to craft a budget, I hope that Democrats and Republicans can agree that we have a moral imperative to protect our children. As Americans, we must demand that they do just that.
Matthew Molloy is a pediatric resident physician with Johns Hopkins University; his email is firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Johns Hopkins University.