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House GOP Vows to Fight Poverty, but Its Budget Would Eviscerate Anti-Poverty Spending

The House Republicans’ new poverty plan is silent on the discrepancy between its call to fight poverty and the House GOP’s own budget priorities. Those budget priorities, however, are unmistakable – they would cut programs for low- and modest-income people dramatically. The potential for massive cuts in key safety net programs only grows when you also consider the huge tax cuts that presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has proposed.

  • Under the budget that House Budget Committee Republicans adopted in March, which Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed and is trying to bring to the House floor, 62 percent of its $6 trillion in budget cuts over ten years — or $3.7 trillion in cuts — would come from programs for people with low or modest incomes, even though these programs constitute only about a quarter of federal program spending.

    By the tenth year (2026), the budget would cut these programs by 42 percent overall. Tens of millions of people would lose health coverage and millions would lose basic food or other support. The number of people that the safety net lifts above the poverty line would almost certainly diminish markedly.

  • In trying to secure House passage of their budget, House GOP leaders have proposed to attach “sidecar” legislation containing specific cuts in domestic programs. Some 87 percent of those cuts would come from programs for low- or moderate-income households.
  • Finally, based on estimates from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, Trump’s tax plan would reduce federal revenues by $9.2 trillion over the coming decade, shrinking revenues as a share of the economy to their lowest level since 1950 — before programs like Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP (food stamps), and the Earned Income Tax Credit existed. To avoid exploding deficits, that would necessitate budget cuts of an unprecedented scale. (To offset the tax cuts and balance the budget would require spending cuts two and one-half times larger than those in the House Budget Committee plan.)

Clearly, House GOP leaders’ stated interest in helping the poor contrasts sharply with their own budget.