By HENRY GARRIDO
I have said it before in this space: Budgets are not just numbers, dollars & cents. When presidents/governors/mayors present a budget, they are telling you what they value, who they value. What their priorities are – and what they are not.
Donald Trump the candidate thundered on during the campaign about how he was going to make life better for millions of American families left behind by economic inequality and stagnant wages.
To date, Donald Trump’s signature accomplishment is his so-called tax “reform.” As a candidate, Trump claimed his tax plan was going to help working families and target the rich.
But the tax bill that President Trump signed into law “spread tax gains unevenly across income brackets, with high earners enjoying the biggest windfalls,” according to National Public Radio.
Under his tax plan, rich real estate investors — including Trump himself — receive huge tax cuts and companies such as the Trump Organization have been rewarded with new tax loopholes.
On the other side of the ledger, the tax plan pushed the federal deficit to $1 trillion last year.
So less than two months after the longest government shutdown in history, and with the amount of corporate taxes collected by the federal government plunging to what a NY Times report called “historically low levels,” Trump has proposed a callous, heartless budget that is staggering evidence of how he really feels about working men and women like you and me.
Let’s be clear: Combined, his tax overhaul and his budget proposals make him Robin Hood in reverse — giving to the rich and taking from everyone else. In order to pay for corporate tax breaks, he wants to cut Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security by more than $1.5 trillion over the next decade.
Here in New York, the budget cuts would be devastating to the public health care system that provides medical care to our city’s most vulnerable residents and employs thousands of DC 37 members.
He is proposing $220 billion in cuts to food stamps and $207 billion in cuts to federal student loan programs. He wants to cut the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by 30 percent, Housing and Urban Development (on which hopes for improving NYCHA depend) by 16 percent, the Department of Education by 14 percent, and the Department of Labor by 10 percent.
Of course, he also wants $8.6 billion for his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, on top of the almost $7 billion that he sought last month as part of a national emergency declaration.
To be sure, none of this has anything to do with making America great for the working class.
On the contrary, while Trump obsesses over his wall, his administration refuses to raise the minimum wage, which has remained at $7.25 per hour for 10 years.
Under Trump, the Labor Department, which sought to bring fairness to the workplace during President Obama’s administration, has deprived some four million workers of about $1 billion a year for the overtime pay they would have earned for working long hours.
Trump has also rescinded Obama executive orders that protect workers from wage theft, including the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule that required companies bidding for federal contracts to disclose and correct past violations of labor laws or safety regulations.
Last November, the results of the mid-term elections made clear the nation’s impatience with Trump’s Tale of Two Countries. Instead of listening to the people, his tone-deaf, Draconian budget puts him squarely in the pockets of the ultra-wealthy special interests he once claimed to oppose.
AFSCME President Lee Saunders calls Trump’s proposals “an attack on working people and another attempt to rig the economy in favor of the privileged and the powerful.”
DC 37 and AFSCME call on Congress to reject this bad proposal and create a budget that empowers working families and their communities.