Trump Budget Would Make America Hungrier Again

by Matt Newell-Ching

Four takeaways from the President’s budget proposal’s potential impact in Oregon

For more than four decades, there has been a strong bipartisan consensus that when it comes to hunger in America, we are all in this together. This proposal would end that consensus. No longer would there be a basic commitment in America that we are better off when everyone can afford basic nutrition.

The President’s budget was released today, and it proposes deep and troubling cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the nation’s first line of defense against hunger.

The impact of cuts to SNAP and other programs will be most deeply felt by kids, seniors, people with disabilities, people looking for work, and people working but not earning enough to afford basics like food and housing.

It would do this primarily by placing a massive new burden on states, requiring them to contribute 25 percent of the costs of SNAP food benefits. The average cost to Oregon taxpayers would be around $268 million per year.

Here are four major ways the Trump Budget would harm Oregonians:

  1. It will cut food benefits and reduce the number of people eligible. The proposal allows states to mitigate the additional costs by eliminating state options, like allowing penalizing families for owning a reliable car. States like Oregon could choose to administer SNAP in more draconian ways in an effort to achieve cost savings. Kids, families, and seniors would lose.
  2. The next recession would trigger a far worse hunger crisis. SNAP participation increases during recessions because the need is greater. That is precisely the time when state budgets are squeezed the most. Given Oregon’s new 25 percent cost share for SNAP, there would be significant pressure on Oregon’s lawmakers to cut benefit levels and or eligibility to balance the budget. At the time when food assistance would be needed the most, Oregon would face significant incentives to balance the budget on the backs of people struggling to afford food.
  3. It’s not just food assistance—this will impact people with disabilities and people who need assistance with things like housing, job training, and heating costs. Nationwide, the budget proposal would eliminate health insurance through Medicaid for millions of working poor families and housing assistance for 250,000 households. Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) points out that this will create a “devastating domino effect on the food security, health, learning, and productivity of Americans in rural, suburban, and urban areas alike.”
  4. This is to pay for a tax cut to the top 1%. The ostensible purpose of budget cuts is to help balance the budget. It is completely disingenuous, however, to propose deep cuts to assistance for food and housing while at the same time proposing tax cuts for the highest income earners. Americans with incomes over $1 million would get a tax break averaging $50,000 per year. It’s Robin Hood in reverse.

Budgets are moral documents. A federal budget should strengthen the economic stability of families who have been left behind in this slow economic recovery, not weaken it.

Only Congress, with the president’s signature can make this proposal a reality. Tell your lawmakers right now: Reject the proposal to increase hunger in Oregon.