Nothing defines a person’s priorities better than how that person spends money. President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal clearly shows that his priorities do not include people with disabilities, poor people and children, to name a few. That may seem like an unfair generalization, especially to those who voted for Trump, but numbers do not lie. The hard truth is that Trump’s budget is all about reducing money spent on the most vulnerable populations. Worst of all, the president, his administration and supporters seem completely unaware of the devastating effects.
“We are not kicking anybody off of any program who really needs it,” White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters after the budget was unveiled.
Try telling that to Rachel Doboga, 30, who has ALS. She warns that the administration’s proposal to completely eliminate funding for the National ALS Registry will kill the hope that she and thousands of others with ALS have had over the past few years. “We saw a potential for life-saving research when the National ALS Registry came into existence,” she writes in the June 9 edition of the Huffington Post [“Trump’s Budget is a Death Sentence for the ALS Community”]. But if Trump’s defunding goes through, it will eliminate clinical trials, information gathering and 13 studies currently exploring causes of ALS. “I never imagined that the fight for a cure would be undermined by my own president,” writes Doboga.
Or try telling Susan Connors, president and CEO of the Brain Injury Association of America. “All individuals with brain injury should have timely access to high quality, accessible, affordable, patient-centered health care. President Trump’s cuts to brain injury services and supports, coupled with the pending threat related to the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, is a step in a decidedly poor direction,” she writes in response to the budget cuts. A press release from the BIA declares: “The ramifications, if realized, will be catastrophic — especially to those living with disabilities.”
That means not only people with ALS or traumatic brain injuries, but anyone with a severe disability, including spinal cord injuries: Trump wants to defund the Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center, home to popular supportive programs like Quality of Life Grants and the NeuroRecovery Network — a network of cooperative rehab centers whose mission is to develop and provide activity-based therapies.
Then there’s Medicaid, which will take the hugest cut of all — more than $600 billion over the next several years. Virtually any Medicaid program whose purpose is to support people with disabilities with home-based services is in jeopardy, while nursing homes and institutions will be given priority.
And then there are underprivileged children, who have the least political power. Food stamps and after-school support programs will be cut, along with childcare for low-income parents attending college.
So who are the beneficiaries? Where will the money go from the billions cut from programs that benefit the most vulnerable? To the military, exclusionary wall-builders, and the wealthy: those whose taxes shrink while their portfolios grow. These are Trump’s true allies — the winners. The rest of us — unless we do something about it — are losers.