Trumps Budget Proposal Response by Hunger Free America

03.16.2017

For Immediate Release:                                            

March 16, 2017                                                         

Contact: Magen Allen

Mallen@hungerfreeamerica.org                                                                                                         

(212) 825-0028, ext. 212

Trump’s Budget: “Bait and Switch for Rural Americans that Elected Him”

“Rural Communities will Lose Jobs and Pay More in Taxes”

Trump Launches “War on People in Poverty to Fund Billionaire Tax Cuts”

Reduces Funding for Nutrition for Pregnant Woman and Infants

“Talks Like Robin Hood but Pushes Policies to Aid Sheriffs of Nottingham”

International Food Aid Cuts Will “Increase Risk of War”

President Trump’s new budget outline is a “bait and switch for rural Americans and would most harm the very people that elected him,” said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, and author of America We Need to Talk: A Self-Help Book for the Nation. “By targeting U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other rural economic development activities for elimination and steep cuts, Trump’s proposal would eliminate jobs and raise taxes in rural America.”

As part of the least detailed Presidential budget proposal in modern American history, Trump proposes cutting $4.7 billion from USDA, a 21 percent decrease, making the department one of the hardest-hit. But the outline only specifies $993 million in cuts, which means that more than three quarters of the cuts to USDA have yet to be identified.

The budget proposes entirely eliminating the $498 million USDA Water and Wastewater Disposal Loan and Grant program, which, according to USDA, provides rural communities with “funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal, and storm water drainage.” If the program were actually eliminated, rural localities would be forced to pick up much or all of that tab, which would likely cause local tax increases. The budget would also ax $95 million from the USDA Rural Business and Cooperative Service, which specifically creates rural jobs. Said Berg, who served in senior executive service positions at USDA for eight years during the Clinton Administration, “There’s no way around the reality that these cuts would reduce services, slash jobs, and hike rural taxes.  Given that three quarters of the massive cuts in USDA are not yet specified, this budget would also likely compromise core functions of the department such as aiding small farmers, protecting food safety, protecting water quality, and funding 4-H youth groups. Such cuts would inflict grave harm on all Americans, but particularly rural ones.”

The budget also proposes to eliminate two other independent agencies – the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority, – which have the sole mission of creating jobs and improving living standards in the most distressed rural communities. “Trump’s gutting of rural development programs places his thumb in the eye of his fiercest rural supporters,” continued Berg.

Trump calls for entirely eliminating the AmeriCorps National Service Program, which creates community service jobs while enabling program participants from all economic backgrounds to help pay their way through college. Berg, who helped launch the AmeriCorps program in the early 1990’s, responded: “AmeriCorps creates jobs, empowers local communities, makes college more affordable for low and middle income families, bolsters non-profit groups, and is mostly controlled by states, not the federal government. It’s no wonder that AmeriCorps has received strong support from Republican leaders like Haley Barbour, George W. Bush, Orin Hatch, and John McCain. While AmeriCorps also serves urban and suburban communities, it is particularly adept at aiding underserved rural areas. Common sense efforts such as this – which create jobs while meeting critical community needs – should be expanded in a bi-partisan manner.”

While Trump is pushing parallel efforts to enact tax cuts that would aid billionaires and millionaires most, his budget also proposed taking $200 million out of the USDA Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), a program which provides nutritional supplements to struggling pregnant woman and children under five. Hunger Free America estimates that WIC has saved more than half a million U.S. children from dying at birth. Said CEO Berg, “WIC is one of the most effective ‘pro-life’ programs in the federal government, literally preventing babies from dying. Trump’s proposal to literally take food away from infants to fund tax cuts for the wealthiest represents upside down values.”

The budget outline also calls for eliminating or slashing a wide variety of other programs that aid low income families, including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), which funds many entities such as food banks and meals-on-wheels programs. It also calls for slashing HUD’s budget. “Trump’s promises to aid low-income city residents are as hollow as his promises to aid rural America,” continued Berg. “He is launching a ‘War on People in Poverty.’ Trump still talks like Robin Hood but his actual policies mostly benefit the modern day Sheriffs of Nottingham – the billionaires and millionaires.”

Trump also calls for eliminating the bi-partisan USDA Dole-McGovern Program, which helps developing countries start school meals programs. It also calls for drastic cuts in the State Department’s Food for Peace Program – started under Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower – which sends food relief to poor countries suffering from wars or natural disasters. “Yes,” said Berg, “Trump is even cutting a program, started by a Republican war hero, to prevent future wars by reducing mass starvation.  This program – and other international food aid programs – are already small and under-funded. Gutting them will surely increase the chance that the U.S. will be embroiled in more unnecessary wars.”

“On the bright side,” concluded Berg, “Many members of Congress of both parties have declared many of these ill-advised cuts dead-on arrival. I am particularly optimistic that AmeriCorps will continue to receive strong bi-partisan, support.”

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