Editor’s Note: Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and a former presidential candidate, is serving his second term in the Senate. The views expressed in this commentary are his own.
Bernie Sanders: Trump's budget exposes his promises as cheap campaign rhetoric
Trump's assurances on Social Security and Medicaid were merely meant to get votes
The budget introduced this week by the Trump administration constitutes nothing less than a massive transfer of wealth from working families, the elderly, children, the sick and the poor to the top 1%.
It follows in the footsteps of the Trump-Ryan health care bill, which gives massive tax breaks to the people on top, while throwing 24 million Americans off of their health insurance and dramatically raising premiums for older workers.
At a time when the very rich are already getting much richer while the middle class continues to shrink, this is a budget for the billionaire class, for Wall Street, for corporate CEOs, and for the wealthiest people in this country.
This is a budget that says that if you are the richest family in America, you will get a multi-billion-dollar tax break through the repeal of the estate tax. But, at the same time, if you are a lower income senior citizen you will not be able to get the one nutritious meal a day you now receive through the Meals on Wheels program or the help you desperately need if you have a disability and are trying to survive on a $1,200 a month Social Security check.
This is a budget that says that if you are the second-wealthiest family in America – a family that has contributed many hundreds of millions to the Republican Party – billions are also coming your way. But if you are a working-class student trying to figure out how you could possibly afford college, your dream of a college education could evaporate because of more than $143 billion in cuts to student financial assistance programs.
This is a budget which offers you tax breaks if you are a member of the Trump family, but if you are a child of a working class family you could well lose the health insurance you currently have through the Children’s Health Insurance program and massive cuts to Medicaid. At a time when we remain one of the only major countries on earth not to guarantee health care to all, this budget makes a bad situation worse in terms of health care.
When Donald Trump campaigned for president, he told the American people that he would be a different type of Republican, one who would take on the political and economic establishment, stand up for working people, and consider the pain that families all over this country were feeling.
Sadly, this budget exposes all of that verbiage for what it really was – cheap campaign rhetoric that was meant to get votes.
During the campaign, candidate Trump tweeted:
“I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid.” But it wasn’t just a tweet. It was a cornerstone of his campaign.
On April 18, 2015, Trump said: “Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid. And we can’t do that.”
But now that he is President, Donald Trump has proposed a budget that would cut Social Security for people with severe disabilities, raid Medicare and gut Medicaid by more than a trillion dollars over the next decade. He has put his name on a budget which will make it harder for our children to get a decent education, harder for working families to get the health care they desperately need, harder for families to put food on the table, harder to protect our environment, and harder for the elderly to live out their retirement years in dignity.
Let’s be clear about something else: the economic theory President Trump has embraced with this budget, trickle-down economics, is an abysmal failure and a fraud.
Since Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush slashed taxes on the wealthy and deregulated Wall Street, trillions of dollars in wealth have been redistributed from the middle class and working families to a handful of millionaires and billionaires.
Today, we have more wealth and income inequality than at any time since the 1920s. The top one-tenth of 1% owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%. The Trump budget would make a bad situation worse by widening that gap with its trillions of cuts to social programs and gifts to the top 1%.
Trump’s budget is not a moral budget and it must be soundly defeated.