2018 White House Budget Plan Slashes Funding for Safety-Net Programs

The 2018 budget plan issued by the White House on Tuesday would cut federal spending by $3.6 trillion over ten years and eliminate or severely curtail dozens of safety-net programs, the Washington Post reports.

Titled "A New Foundation for American Greatness," the $4.094 trillion budget proposal seeks to balance the federal budget over the next decade by slashing more than $1 trillion in funding for safety-net programs — including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (a cut of $193 billion, or 29 percent), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families ($21.7 billion, or 13 percent), and Medicaid ($800 billion, or 12 percent). In addition, funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) would be cut by roughly 20 percent next year, with federal payments limited to families with incomes of up to 250 percent of the poverty level.

Proposed policy changes in the White House budget include implementing stricter work requirements for recipients of food assistance, shifting some of the costs of anti-poverty programs to states, and giving states a choice between a "block grant" or a cap on Medicaid. The plan also would cut disability benefits by more than $72 billion and eliminate college loan programs for the poor and those who take jobs in government or nonprofit organizations, while preserving funding for Medicare and Social Security (cut by 1 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively, over ten years).

"This is, I think, the first time in a long time that an administration has written a budget through the eyes of the people who are actually paying the taxes," said White House budget director Mick Mulvaney in a press briefing. "So often in Washington I think we look only on the recipient side: How does the budget affect those who either receive or don't receive benefits?...[W]e are no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programs or the number of people on those programs. We're going to measure compassion and success by the number of people we help get off of those programs and get back in charge of their own lives."

While the proposal is expected to face opposition from both parties in Congress, nonprofit leaders expressed alarm over the impact it would have on critical safety-net programs.

In a statement, Daniel J. Cardinali, president and CEO of Independent Sector, said: "[W]e believe that the deep and indiscriminate cuts proposed to non-defense spending would negatively affect nonprofit organizations, our capacity to pursue our missions, and the communities and individuals we serve. The budget signals an unprecedented federal retreat from critical programs that support the nation's most vulnerable populations and build vital communities."

"Independent Sector Statement on Trump Administration FY 2018 Budget." Independent Sector Press Release 05/23/2017. Damian Paletta, Robert Costa. "Trump's Budget Proposal Slashes Spending by $3.6 Trillion Over 10 Years." Washington Post 05/22/2017. Denise Lu, Kim Soffen. "What Trump's Budget Cuts From the Social Safety Net." Washington Post 05/22/2017. Julie Hirschfeld Davis. "Trump's Budget Cuts Deeply Into Medicaid and Anti-Poverty Efforts." New York Times 05/22/2017. "Off-Camera Briefing on FY18 Budget by OMB Director Mulvaney." White House Press Release 05/22/2017.