Friday, May 26, 2017

Poor, sick, vulnerable victims of Trump budget, Ohio advocates say

By Mary Kuhlman
Ohio News Connection

President Donald Trump's proposed budget - according to many advocates for the poor - would make Americans weaker, sicker and hungrier.

The $4.1 trillion budget boosts military spending and doles out huge tax breaks, paid for by cuts to programs that millions of Americans rely on to survive.

According to Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, the president's proposal calls for slashing the federal nutrition program by $192 billion over 10 years.

"This is the first time that the program has been this threatened by fundamental and structural changes that quite honestly will destroy the program for over 42 million Americans," she states. "The poorest of the poor, the sickest of the sick and the most vulnerable."

Hamler-Fugitt says the plan slashes SNAP benefits by 25 percent, putting 1.5 million Ohioans at risk of deep hunger.

The Trump administration says the cuts will be balanced by stricter work requirements and reduced fraud.

But Hamler-Fugitt says with 84 percent of all SNAP participants being children, seniors or people living with disabilities, the numbers don't add up.

"I think it's smoke and mirrors," she says. "A work requirement for the elderly, for children and persons with disability is not relevant. They are not part of the workforce."

Hamler-Fugitt notes that since 2014, 300,000 Ohioans have been removed from the program because they were unable to find employment or engage in a qualifying work-experience program.

She says SNAP always has enjoyed bipartisan support and cutting benefits not only would hurt the poor, it would hurt the economy as a whole.

"This is not acceptable," she stresses. "It clearly represents a Robin Hood-in-reverse budget. It will compromise our security, our health and well being and economic viability moving forward."

The president's budget also proposes cutting $800 billion from Medicaid and $272 billion from welfare programs.

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