President Donald Trump’s first major budget proposal comes out on Tuesday, but many of the details are already public. The budget would reverse several of Trump’s campaign promises—like his pledge to preserve Medicaid and Social Security—by dismantling welfare for the poor and sick, while ensuring that rich Americans keep more of their income.
At this point, the proposal is just that—a proposal, and Congressional Republicans, some of whom have balked at the president’s blueprint, hold the power of the purse. But if followed, the plan would reportedly cut anti-poverty programs by $1.7 trillion over the next 10 years in an attempt to balance the budget, according to the The Washington Post and Axios. In addition to $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid—which comes directly from the House’s Obamacare replacement—the budget would also let states use “work requirements” to limit eligibility and spending on programs like SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, previously known as food stamps), CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program), and Social Security Disability Insurance. There is little question that these policies would raise the number of uninsured Americans (the Congressional Budget Office’s estimates suggest by more than 20 million), expose more households to medical bankruptcy, and push more families into poverty.
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.