Union leaders give Trump budget proposal bad reviews

“Slashing Meals on Wheels, which brings food to some of the nation’s most-vulnerable people, and heating assistance for low-income people, reflect a mean-spirited theme in Washington, said National Nurses United Co-President Jean Ross. It’s also “evident in a health plan that cuts coverage for 24 million while giving a massive tax break to the rich.”

WASHINGTON —Republican President Donald Trump’s first proposed budget release for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 got bad reviews from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Teachers President Randi Weingarten and other union leaders.

And Congress’ ruling Republicans had mixed feelings, too.

Trump unveiled a plan to add $54 billion to Defense and Homeland Security departments’ spending, paid for by equivalent cuts elsewhere. They included cutting job training programs and eliminating safety and health training grants as part of a $2.5 billion – 21 percent – cut in Labor Department spending on discretionary programs.

Trump also wants to kill 62 government programs and agencies, including the National Endowments for the Arts and for the Humanities. The NEA cut drew a protest from Actors Equity President Kate Shindle.

Mandatory programs, such as jobless benefits, Social Security and Medicare, were not mentioned in Trump’s first budget statement.

“Working people in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin didn’t vote for a budget that slashes workforce training and fails to invest in our nation’s infrastructure,” Trumka said.

Post-election polls show white working-class voters in those four states gave Trump the margins he needed to win them, and the Electoral College, last November.

“President Trump’s proposed budget attempts to balance the budget on the backs of working families. The $54 billion cut to programs that benefit working families is dangerous and destructive,” Trumka continued.

“Huge cuts to the departments of Labor, Education and Transportation will make workplaces less safe, put more children at risk and make improving our failing infrastructure much more difficult. The administration can and should do better.”

Weingarten zeroed in on Trump’s education cuts of $9.2 billion. So did Diann Woodard, president of the School Administrators.

“This budget takes a meat cleaver to public education,” Weingarten said. “These are the biggest cuts to the education budget we can recall — even during times of great fiscal stress.

“Only someone who doesn’t know what public schools do” – specifically Trump Education Secretary Elizabeth “Betsy” DeVos, a big GOP giver and foe of teachers and unions in Michigan – “and what kids need would contemplate or countenance these kinds of cuts.

“This budget also includes both backdoor and ‘front-door’ voucher programs that further the Trump administration’s ideological crusade against public education. ‘Portability’” – letting federal school aid follow kids from school to school – “is a backdoor voucher scheme that was expressly rejected in the recently enacted bipartisan federal education law.”

An AFL-CIO analysis said $1.8 billion in federal Education Department money would be redirected from public schools to private schools, charter schools and in vouchers to parents of private school kids. All those options are Republican mantras and trash public schools.

“These cuts will turn into real-life effects on kids. They do what we feared would happen when DeVos was nominated: Defund public schools with the aim of destabilizing and destroying them,” Weingarten said.

Woodard hit Trump for plans to kill all $2.25 billion in federal effective instruction grants for states. “Wholesale elimination of a program designed to hire and provide professional development to principals and teachers in order to prop-up unaccountable private schools and engage in an unnecessary peacetime build-up of armed forces is completely unacceptable.” She also said Trump’s plan “undermines” last year’s bipartisan federal school aid law.

“If Congress approves this budget, you can be assured that our failure to provide reasonable support to our public schools now will lead to students, educators and the nation as a whole paying dearly later,” Woodard predicted.

“This budget shirks our nation’s responsibility to care for its citizens and ensure the public’s health and safety,” among other things, added AFGE President J. David Cox. The “severity of the cuts could also require mass layoffs” around the government “although the budget document does not say how many would lose their jobs.” AFGE is the government’s largest federal workers union.                        

“Slashing Meals on Wheels, which brings food to some of the nation’s most-vulnerable people, and heating assistance for low-income people, reflect a mean-spirited theme in Washington, said National Nurses United Co-President Jean Ross. It’s also “evident in a health plan that cuts coverage for 24 million while giving a massive tax break to the rich.”

 

Besides the job training and occupational safety and health grant cuts Trumka cited, the AFL-CIO listed other objectionable Trump cuts. A few were:

• $12.6 billion (-16.2 percent) from the Department of Health and Human Services, almost half of it in National Institutes of Health medical research funds. Nurses training grants ($403 million) would die and funds to help low-income people heat their homes in winter and cool them in summer would shrink.

• A $239 million cut in the IRS. The AFL-CIO said that would “allow the super-wealthy and corporations to get away with not paying taxes and allow big banks to crush small community banks.” Added Treasury Employees President Tony Reardon: “IRS has already lost 17,000 employees in the last seven years. A cut like this means fewer tax cheats caught.” NTEU is a non-AFL-CIO union.

Source: PAI