In the key Rustbelt states that tipped the 2016 election to President Trump, blue-collar white voters at the core of his constituency represent a majority of those receiving benefits from the federal income-support programs he has targeted for large cutbacks in his budget, according a new analysis conducted for The Atlantic.
Whites without a four-year college degree constitute most of those receiving assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Social Security’s Supplemental Security Income program, and Social Security’s disability program in each of the five Rustbelt states that flipped from Barack Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016: Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. They also represent a majority of the programs’ beneficiaries in other heavily working-class interior states—from Arkansas and Kentucky through Missouri and Montana—that are central to GOP fortunes in upcoming elections.
Trump’s budget, released Tuesday morning, looks to protect the older whites vital to his electoral coalition by exempting both Medicare and the principal Social Security retirement program from any cuts: About 80 percent of today’s seniors are white, and Trump carried about three-fifths of white seniors in last fall’s election. In stark contrast, the budget focuses large reductions on domestic discretionary-spending programs that invest in the productivity of future generations, including scientific research, education, student loans, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. In those ways, the budget displays a clear preference for the predominantly white senior population over the rapidly diversifying youth population: As I’ve written, it strongly favors the “gray” over the “brown.”