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« “Junk” health plan won’t cover what women need! | Main | Congress Acts to Fund Key Health Priorities, But Leaves Dreamers Behind »

Trump issues terrible budget, Senate plan to protect Dreamers fails

Trump proposes ACA repeal, Medicaid block grants and huge cuts to Medicare
This week, the Trump White House released its proposed budget for fiscal year 2019. While we knew it was going to be bad, we were still shocked at just how deeply and ruthlessly the administration proposed cutting services for poor and middle-class households. Coming on the heels of the GOP’s $1.5 trillion deficit-financed tax giveaway to corporations and the ultra-wealthy, the president’s budget doubles down on Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)’s promise to use the fiscal crisis created by the tax bill to justify gutting the social safety net. While most of the budget’s specific policy proposals have little chance of becoming law this year, the budget sets out a clear marker of what Republicans hope to do in 2019 if they retain control of Congress in the November elections.
The budget once again calls for blocking women from using their public health insurance at Planned Parenthood, repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and replacing them with a Graham-Cassidy style block grant program designed to disappear after a few years. The budget also doubles down on last year’s Trumpcare proposals to block grant Medicaid—eliminating its long-standing guarantee of coverage for pregnant women, children, seniors and people with disabilities. But the budget envisions even deeper cuts than what Republicans voted for in 2017. Despite Candidate Trump’s promises to protect Medicare on the campaign trail, the budget proposes $554 billion in cuts to Medicare over the next decade.
The budget envisions equally devastating cuts beyond health care. It calls for $213 billion in cuts to the food stamp (SNAP) program—slashing the program by almost one-third—elimination of community development block grants, deep cuts to housing assistance, elimination of 29 education programs that serve low-income students and $240 billion in cuts to infrastructure. Meanwhile, Trump’s infrastructure plan also introduced this week would replace direct federal investment—financed by progressive income taxes—with private investment financed by regressive tolls and fees. Women already face significant obstacles in accessing safe, affordable, and reliable transportation compared to men, with consequences for their health. In a 2013 study, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly one in five low-income women nationwide (18%) cited transportation problems as a reason for forgoing medical care.
But even with these deep, deep cuts to health care, food security, education and infrastructure, the Trump budget still predicts deep red deficits every year. In fact, their numbers almost certainly aren’t dire enough, banking on unrealistic projections about economic growth and the government’s borrowing costs over the next ten years.
Trump and Ryan want to use the deficit to attack services for low- and middle-income families but their own budget shows that even eviscerating the social safety net won’t balance the budget. Instead it’s clearer than ever that the next Congress must repeal the #TrumpTaxScam. The Washington Post summed up the budget with the headline, “Trump budget highlights disconnect between populist rhetoric and plutocrat reality.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Senate Fails to Approve Bipartisan Plan to Save Dreamers
This week, the Senate debated legislation to restore legal protections for the Dreamers. Named for the DREAM Act, which would provide them with a pathway to citizenship, the Dreamers are undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, many of whom have known no other home.
As we described last month, after Republicans blocked the DREAM Act in Congress in 2010, President Barack Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012 by executive order, granting limited legal status and work authorization to Dreamers who registered with the federal government. In 2017, however, the Trump administration canceled DACA, rescinding those protections after March 5, 2018, and directed immigration officials to arrest and deport otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants, including the Dreamers. In 2017, the number of non-criminal immigrants arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) increased 250 percent. Unless Congress takes action, the end of DACA will be not only a looming humanitarian crisis, but also a public health crisis, as hundreds of thousands of employed Dreamers lose their jobs and their work-place health insurance.
On Wednesday, a group of 16 senators evenly split between the two parties introduced legislation to extend legal status to 1.8 million Dreamers and appropriate $25 billion for border security, distributed incrementally over the next decade. However, because the bill does not slash legal immigration—a top priority for the Trump White House and the GOP’s nativist base—the administration issued a veto threat and began aggressively lobbying against it. The Washington Post reported one Trump official as saying “we are doing everything in our power” to block the bill.
This afternoon senators took four immigration-related votes, including on draconian legislation to block federal funding for “sanctuary cities” and a White House proposal to tie protections for the Dreamers hostage with steep cuts to legal immigration. Several organizations who advocate on behalf of the Dreamers had alreadyrejected the Trump proposal, warning that Dreamers won’t accept attacks on other immigrants as the price of their own freedom. All four votes failed to win the 60 votes needed for passage. The Trump proposal was rejected 39-60 while the bipartisan bill fell just 6 votes shy at 54-45.
Ironically, the bill’s path forward was complicated by a major legal victory for the Dreamers, which may have taken pressure off of reticent Republicans to pass a deal. Two federal courts have now ruled that Trump illegally terminated the DACA program, and have ordered the federal government to continue processing DACA renewal applications beyond March 5. But because the program requires Dreamers to register with a federal government now viewed as openly hostile to them, many Dreamers fear renewing their authorizations without statutory protections from Congress.
With the Senate now set to leave town for the President’s Day recess next week, it’s not clear what will happen next. But it’s not too late to make your voice heard and let your senators know what you think of their votes today. Use the congressional switchboard (202) 224-3121 to tell them they need to protect Dreamers, defend DACA and support the DREAM Act now!
You can also amplify the importance of DACA and the DREAM Act on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Reach out to your senators by tweeting at them or posting on their Facebook pages. You can use these messages and graphics from our friends at the National Immigration Law Center and the hashtag #DreamActNow.


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