President Donald Trump’s Draconian budget proposal jolted Queens lawmakers, who were braced for steep cutbacks but not the evisceration of programs for children, the elderly, the hungry and students struggling with loans.
Besides the very rich, few were spared the ax in his $4.1 trillion blueprint for 2018, which raised military spending by 10 percent and set aside $1.6 billion for the early construction of the border wall with Mexico.
The conservatives’ favorite targets were on the line: Medicaid, food stamps, heating bill assistance for seniors, disability programs, public housing and Meals on Wheels.
In Trump’s world, it’s apparently a crime to be poor even if you’re too young to pay your dues or too old to keep plugging away at a minimum wage job.
If Trump is keeping count, as we know he is, Queens and the rest of the city — except for Staten Island — overwhelmingly rejected his bid for the White House. His budget is an affront to his hometown and a repudiation of New York City values.
In Queens, where Trump grew up, 343,834 people were living below the poverty level — or 15.1 percent of the population — in February, according to the New York State Community Action Association. Queens ranked third in poverty in the entire state behind only Brooklyn and the Bronx.
New York City is home to more than 1 million impoverished people, a staggering number that includes legions of the working poor.
Hunger Free America’s 2016 annual survey found 11 percent of Queens residents were hungry from 2013-2015, while 16 percent of children did not have enough food and 10 percent of seniors were inadequately fed.
Trump appears untroubled turning his back on his fellow New Yorkers, many of whom have taken to the streets to challenge his presidency. But what about his core supporters in other parts of the nation who propelled him into the White House on promises that he has now broken?
His mission is to lacerate spending so that he can cut taxes for the richest Americans and spur what many economists believe is an unrealistic 3 percent economic growth rate.
U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley called Trump’s plan “a slash and burn budget,” while Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney warned “it would set our country back decades.” And Mayor Bill de Blasio minced no words when he said “children will die.”
We hope Congress will dismiss the extremes in his budget, including the severe blows to scientific and medical research. This could always be Trump’s opening negotiating salvo in the latest chapter of “The Art of the Deal,” but it is certainly not the way to make “America Great Again.”
©2017 Community News Group
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