Valley lawmakers decry Trump budget proposal
NORTHAMPTON — Monday’s release of the White House’s budget proposal was met with stinging criticism from elected officials in the Pioneer Valley.
President Trump’s $4.4 trillion budget, announced after a recent $1.5 trillion tax cut that slashed corporate rates, cuts social welfare programs by $200 billion while increasing spending on infrastructure initiatives and defense.
U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, called the budget sent to Congress “immoral” and said cuts to food aid programs and Medicare in the U.S. would have a disastrous impact on low-income people and seniors.
“It’s frustrating to see these kinds of documents coming from the White House,” McGovern said. “The budget is not only insulting but wrong. Some of the things he’s targeted are programs that keep people alive.”
Cuts to programs like the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) will have an impact on people across the country, McGovern said.
“This affects people in our communities,” McGovern said. “There’s not a community in America that’s hunger-free, and the president wants to cut programs that help people who are hungry.”
The president’s budget proposal also allocates $200 billion to new infrastructure initiatives. However, the proposal sent to Congress reduces federal aid from 80 percent of the costs to 20 percent.
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, said that asking the states and private sector to come up with 80 percent of costs to build new roads and bridges is misdirection.
“I’m glad that we are finally starting the conversation on infrastructure, but not in this way,” Neal said. “The president is juxtaposing the old 80-20 method of federal spending in infrastructure with his new plan, but it puts pressure on states and the private sector to come up with a lot of money.”
President Trump’s budget proposal pays no heed to congressional Republicans’ stated desire to balance the budget, adding $7.1 trillion to the deficit over the next decade. The recent tax bill in Congress, McGovern said, was another example of a lack of concern from GOP leaders with balancing the budget.
“I don’t want any Republican lecturing about the deficit,” McGovern said.
With the budget also calling for cuts to Medicare, McGovern said that was another example of the current administration’s inconsistency on promises made during the campaign.
“I remember Donald Trump explicitly saying during the campaign that there would be no cuts to Medicare,” McGovern said. “That was another falsehood, another lie that we are all learning about now.”
Both congressmen agree there is little to no chance the budget proposal will be passed in Congress as it is currently written.
“Budgets are supposed to represent our values and priorities as a nation, and the president’s values are not consistent with mine,” McGovern said. “I hope there’s no chance that this budget will pass.”
“I can’t imagine that it’s going to have much traction,” Neal said. “I don’t think the chances of this being passed in Congress as written is very good.”
McGovern said the budget proposal should be a call to arms for those opposed to the “unconscionable” policy initiatives it contains.
“It’s up to us to make it clear that we’ll fight like hell,” McGovern said. “I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and fight.”