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Following tax cuts for the rich, Trump budget would hurt the poor

For Donald Trump to unveil this budget plan after approving massive tax breaks for the wealthy is obscene.
Image: President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office
President Donald Trump speaks before signing an executive order establishing regulatory reform officers and task forces in US agencies in Washington, DC on February 24, 2017.

In his inaugural address last year, Donald Trump articulated a vision for taking political power and "giving it back to you, the American people." The new Republican president added, "The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."

Well, maybe just a little longer.

President Trump proposed a budget Monday that hits the poorest Americans the hardest, slashing billions of dollars in food stamps, health insurance and federal housing subsidies while pushing legislation to institute broad work requirements for families receiving housing vouchers, expanding on moves by some states to require recipients of Medicaid and food stamps to work. [...]"This budget proposes taking away food assistance from millions of low-income Americans — and on the heels of a tax cut that favored the wealthy and corporations," said Stacy Dean, president for food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "It doesn't reflect the right values."

No, though it does reflect the right's values.

The point about the Republican tax plan stands out as especially important. It was, after all, just two months ago that GOP policymakers approved a $1.5 trillion package of tax cuts, almost all of which benefited the wealthiest Americans and large corporations. Donald Trump continues to tout the policy as a historic achievement.

But this same president, the self-proclaimed champion of "the forgotten men and women," has created a bookend for the regressive tax breaks: a White House budget that goes out of its way to impose new hardships on those who are already struggling most.

I've been thinking about something Slate's Jamelle Bouie wrote last week:

"Five, 10 years from now -- different party. You're going to have a worker's party." That was Donald Trump's promise, shortly after he captured the Republican nomination for president. During his campaign, Trump made a habit of attacking traditional Republican positions on social insurance, promising to speak for "people that haven't had a real wage increase in 18 years, that are angry."One year after Trump's inauguration, not only is the Republican Party not a "worker's party," but it has done more than any administration in recent history to undermine public goods, support entrenched wealth, and allow businesses to operate untrammeled by accountability or regulation.

And it's against this backdrop that Trump's White House unveiled a budget plan that, if implemented, would make things even harder on working-class families.

This is ordinarily the point at which some pause at the "if implemented" caveat. A president's budget is often ignored once it reaches Capitol Hill, and when it comes to making fiscal and appropriation plans, it's a safe bet that lawmakers are going to go their own way. There's no reason to believe the White House plan will realistically be implemented.

But budgets matter as moral documents: this is Donald Trump's blueprint for the kind of nation he wants to see. If this president had total control over the levers of power, he would impose this budget plan on the public.

And the public would suffer accordingly. Trump's populist mask has been removed and cast aside. The president who vowed never to cut Medicare and Medicaid has unveiled a formal vision in which he cuts Medicare and Medicaid. The president who intended to make the GOP a worker's party wants to slash investments in job training, education, and even dislocated worker grants.

To pursue such a plan after approving massive tax breaks for the wealthy is obscene. To do so while pretending to be the champion of working people is perverse.