The surprise deal President Trump struck this week with Democratic congressional leaders is an agreement to continue the status quo on federal government funding through December.
That means three more months to fight against the Republicans’ budget proposal, which would be truly devastating for ordinary families. When combined with their’ plan to overhaul taxes, this plan will literally take away from poor and working-class families and give to the rich.
Not One Penny
On Thursday, People’s Action joined a coalition of groups in the “Not One Penny” campaign – as in “not one penny in tax cuts for millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations” – outside the Newseum in downtown Washington, D.C., where House Speaker Paul Ryan was touting Republican budget and tax ideas at a New York Times-sponsored forum.
Here’s the prepared text of remarks I delivered at the Newseum, which can be found at about the 12-minute mark in the video:
I remember when, early in the Trump administration, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said that when he singled out federal programs for budget cuts or elimination, he asked himself, “Can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs?”
I am neither a coal miner nor a single mom. But my father shoveled coal for an apartment building furnace here in D.C. before he died when I was 12 years old, and after he died I was the son of a poor single mom. So I have a little bit of insight into the priorities of poor and working-class people.
I can assure you the poor and working-class people I know don’t buy the priorities of the Trump/Paul Ryan budget.
This budget cuts Medicaid and Medicare spending, meaning that millions of low-income people and seniors would not get the health care services they need. We would add to the millions of people who already have to choose between a doctor’s visit and paying the rent, or buying a prescription and paying a utility bill.
But it’s not just adults. Even the Children’s Health Insurance Program is in danger. The program will expire at the end of the month if Congress does not act. [It is not covered in the budget agreement struck this week.] There are Republicans on record supporting cutting spending even on children’s health care and throwing it to the states, which would further cement the idea that a child’s access to quality health care should be determined by their state or zip code. No single mom wants their child’s health to become a political football in the hands of heartless ideologues. CHIP should be a fully funded, and permanent, program.
Altogether, the House Budget would cut close to $3 trillion over the next 10 years in government services that meet the needs of low- and moderate-income households – ranging from food and housing assistance to education and job training programs. Why? To help make room for trillions of dollars worth of tax cuts for large corporations, hedge fund managers, corporate lawyers and real estate magnates like Donald Trump himself. And to pour billions of more dollars into a military industrial complex that is not keeping us safe, and a border wall that will be a mockery of our values and a symbol of hate.
A single mom also would not want her children exposed to toxic chemicals in the ground, water or air. Hurricane Harvey showed us what can happen when a natural disaster collides with toxic waste sites and unregulated storage of chemicals. Yet the Trump Republicans are proposing to cut the Environmental Protection Agency budget by almost a third. Working people want their government’s money spent on keeping us safe from dangerous chemicals. Just ask the mothers of Flint, Michigan.
And while the west is on fire and the South is dealing with the fury of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, poor and working people need a national flood insurance program that works for them, not insurance profits. We need our government to acknowledge climate science. We need our government to fund mitigation against these monster storms and a real recovery for all affected residents, not tax cuts for a handful of billionaires.
Here’s the bottom line: The Trump Republicans have put forward a budget that takes from low-income people and working families – folks who struggle hard to make ends meet every month – to make the already fabulously wealthy even more obscenely rich. It is a moral travesty. And we aim to make this a political disaster for any member of Congress who backs this budget.
The people we represent are done with being played. From West Virginia to Michigan and every other state, people are rising up against a Congress and a White House that wants to codify economic inequality and structural racism through the federal budget. We are rising up against a government that wants to steal the dreams of Dreamers and the hopes of millions of other people who want the federal government to be at their side, not in the pockets of the 1 percent. We will be mobilized against this budget, and mobilized for a budget that actually reflects the priorities of all of us, not just Trump and his gang of white nationalists and oligarchs.