blueollie

Trump’s budget

Ok, President’s budgets are almost always DOA in Congress. But they do provide some insight into what the administration wants, will sign onto and…yes, competence. And yes, Trump’s budget has a yuge accounting error. This is the kind of mistake you might expect of high school students.

But there are other issues. For one, it cuts essential science including the NIH budget, some of which is used in disease prevention.

Think of it this way: there are certain, non-profitable things (things that won’t make money for a business) you want the government to do. Public safety is one of those things, and things like preventing the spread of disease, tracking and countering the mutation of things like the flu virus would be a proper function, right?

And basic science, in general, isn’t profitable enough to attract business funding. But it is still important and something the government should fund.

So what about Trump’s proposed cuts to the social safety nets?

Conservatives tend to support reforming welfare policies because they think that government programs trap families in a state of dependency, cutting them off from work and immiserating their children. In fact, research shows that the opposite is true. Several recent papers have found that the children of low-income mothers with access to prenatal coverage under Medicaid later had lower obesity rates, higher high-school graduation rates, and higher incomes in adulthood, and were less likely to receive welfare payments, like SNAP. Meanwhile, a Brookings analysis of SNAP found that 65 percent of mothers who receive the benefits would fall below the poverty line without the program. There is practically no question that reducing support for working parents by hundreds of billions of dollars will increase the number of children who grow up in poverty.

Tuesday’s proposal comes two months after the president released a so-called “skinny budget” previewing changes to discretionary spending, the 30 percent of government that is appropriated each year, unlike “mandatory spending,” like Social Security or Medicare. In that budget, Trump sought a big increase in military and border spending offset by cuts to science funding, the State Department, and environmental protection. The skinny budget was notable for shutting down some of the few economic programs that specifically help the Rust Belt and Appalachia, starving research universities of the funds that often power local innovation.

In short: Trump’s budget would almost certainly increase the number of uninsured Americans while hurting poor families, especially those that rely on government support in Appalachia and the Rust Belt. But that’s not all.

It’s critical to assess Tuesday’s budget along with the White House’s tax plan. Its centerpiece is a proposal to lower the tax rate on “pass-through” income to 15 percent. This change might seem like a middle-class tax cut, since most businesses are small pass-throughs, like small barbershops or sole proprietorships. But 80 percent of all pass-through revenue is actually taken in by the richest 1 percent of small business, which means a large rate cut for pass-through income turns out to be a windfall for the rich. According to the Tax Policy Center, the proposal “would add $2 trillion to the debt over the next 10 years, while distributing nearly all the benefits to the highest-income households.”

Yep, it is just more “trickle down” bullshit.

However, some of the discussion about this budget really turns me off, at least on an emotional level. Yes, money into safety nets is more effective stimulus than tax cuts (poor to lower middle class people spend what they get..so the money goes into the economy, whereas a wealthy person can buy only so many luxury items) and said money can actually reduce future dependence on public aid.

Nevertheless, what I’ve seen (appeals) have been emotionally unappealing; it is mostly “feel sorry for me” or “feel sorry for them” stuff. And the poor, statistically speaking, do exhibit quite a bit of social pathology (parents that make more kids without supporting the ones that they have; here is an extreme example) Poor people tend to be fatter (really!) and tend to smoke more.

Then there is personal experience: many (most?) families have that one moocher who ALWAYS has their hand out; they are the ones that you don’t pick up when they call because they call when they want something. And I think it is human to extend your own experience to a larger setting, where it …just does NOT apply.

And so, am I spend more in taxes to give them more money? Well, the truth it…our society is better off when we do exactly that. Sometimes, the best policy helps those that you do not care for.

And, the playing field is far from level. Yes, even with a level playing field, there will be some poor people. Some are there because of bad luck, some because of a lack of ability (think: “special needs” people), some are suffering from untreated mental and emotional health problems (which COULD be treated, IF they could afford it, or if we had single payer health coverage) and yes, some are just no good (every income group has a percentage of these).

So, how should we effectively “sell” funding anti-poverty programs? I try to bring out the spreadsheet but am not sure if that is an effective way or not. But I think that this method might answer the question that an increasing number of middle class people are asking: what is in it for me?

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May 24, 2017 - Posted by | economics, economy, political/social, politics |

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