The Trump Administration Releases Its “America First ‘Skinny Budget’”

2017-03-17 | Alliance for Strong Families and Communities

Described as a “skinny” budget, the current Administration’s budget blueprint, released March 16, 2017, only puts forth recommendations for discretionary spending. See the official budget text. Additional details of the Administration’s mandatory spending, tax revenue, and economic growth forecasts are expected to be released in May. It is not unusual for a new administration to roll out its initial budget recommendations in a piecemeal fashion. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) provides a chart comparing the components of the last five presidential “skinny budgets.” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has indicated that time is being given so that cabinet secretaries have flexibility in determining how to distribute the cuts, including to entitlements.

The president’s budget is not set in stone, but does serve as a blueprint for the Administration’s priorities and how it would like Congress to work toward a final budget. This Administration has clearly set its priority on defense and not human services. Read the Alliance's position statement.

In the Trump Administration’s proposed budget, health and human services programs receive a 23 percent overall cut. This is not straight across, as cuts vary across programs, with some being eliminated.

The Coalition on Human Needs has assembled a helpful chart that breaks down changes to all health and human services programs.

The biggest losers are the programs for which funding would be completely eliminated. Some of them are:

  • Afterschool and summer programs (21st Century Community Learning)
  • Legal Services Corporation:  A program that provides a lifeline to justice for women, lower-wage workers, veterans, people in rural communities, communities of color and immigrant communities.
  • Community Development Block Grant
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
  • Community Services Block Grant
  • Choice Neighborhoods
  • Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation
  • Self-Help Home Ownership Opportunities Programs
  • Home Investment Partnerships
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting
  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • National Endowment for the Humanities

Note that Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) is in mandatory funding, and will be dealt with in the complete budget blueprint.

Further complicating the 2017 funding process is that President Trump is asking for a $30 billion defense and border supplemental bill, of which $18 billion is proposed to come from cuts to domestic programs. The discretionary base top-line for fiscal 2017 would rise from $1.07 trillion to $1.08 trillion under the proposal with the defense cap rising $25 billion to $576 billion and the non-defense cap falling to $504 billion. Trump is seeking $3 billion as part of the request to start to build his wall on the southern border and enforce a crackdown on undocumented immigration. Senate Democrats have strongly indicated that this type of funding request is a non-starter and have even threatened a government shut-down in opposition to the supplemental bill. In short, if this supplemental bill is passed as is, domestic programs would see unexpected cuts in 2017.

The release of this early blueprint must fuel the advocacy of the Alliance’s strategic action network to protect the programs we know work to help families achieve well-being, as Congress decides on programs to keep, eliminate, or cut. Now, is the time to be speaking with Members of Congress back home and in D.C. and inviting them to see your programs first hand. The April recess is scheduled for April 10th-21st, so members will be in their home states and districts. Alliance members are encouraged to attend town hall meetings and other public meetings with your congressional delegation, and leveraging influential relationships to secure opportunities to meet directly with your elected members. With the current continuing resolution (CR) expiring on April 28th, Congress will have to pass a spending bill by that time for the remainder of 2017 or force another CR. April is critical for our advocacy. Next week, the Alliance will provide you with tools and supports to assist you in your advocacy efforts on this issues and others that are part of our current policy agenda.

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