IT'S CRAZY in Washington. Just as you're wrapping your head around the latest tweets coming out of the White House, something that's even crazier crops up.
With the Russia connection and the U.S. walking away from its leadership role in the world, the media and public has almost forgotten the budget being proposed by Donald Trump that would eviscerate the safety net programs and neuter the EPA and other agencies.
The administration's budget proposal outines significant cuts to social welfare programs, tax cuts that benefit the wealthy, and increases to border security, immigration deportation funding, and law enforcement.
The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA) condemns this latest budget, which will widen the gap between the rich and poor and further enable a corporate, anti-worker, anti-immigrant, and racist agenda.
“We are not surprised by this budget – it confirms everything we have seen and knew would continue to happen,” stated Johanna Puno Hester, APALA National President and Assistant Executive Director of the United Domestic Workers, AFSCME Local 3930. “Our broken criminal injustice system already disproportionately impacts communities of color. With the government’s blessing for more agents and more detention beds, the private prison industry will continue to profit on the incarceration of Black and Brown bodies.”
APALA Executive Director Gregory A. Cendana added: “Budget cuts to social welfare programs and the repeal and replacement of critical healthcare will be detrimental to millions of people and working families throughout the country. The budget serves only to line the pockets of the wealthy 1% while taking away essential services for struggling families and communities only trying to make ends meet. We are calling on Congress to put people over profit and resist this xenophobic and white supremacist agenda.”
The budget includes an additional $4.4 billion in unnecessary funding for border security in fiscal year 2018 to the Department of Homeland Security to grow its mass deportation force by hiring new agents, increase immigrant detention beds, and begin construction of the border wall.
The budget proposes hiring 70 new immigration enforcement prosecutors at the Department of Justice to prosecute people for immigration-related offenses. Immigration prosecutions already comprise 52 percent of all federal prosecutions—more than prosecutions for drugs, weapons, fraud and other violations combined. Additionally, the White House seeks to go after Sanctuary Cities by changing legislative language, which should only be done through proper legislative channels.
“As an immigrant myself, I am disgusted that more taxpayer dollars are going towards the mass criminalization and deportation of immigrant and refugee communities," added Hester. "Instead of investing directly into workers, students, and putting more people on the path to the middle class, we’re seeing moves to a more militarized state. This administration has repeatedly shown its relentlessness to destroy our democracy and the values of freedom and diversity we hold dear. That’s why it’s important now more than ever to resist, organize, and fight back against these oppressive tactics.”
"We find this budget shameful and urge Congress not to give in to the administration’s fear-mongering and propaganda on immigration," said the Asian Americans Advancing Justice in a statement. "Congress should drastically reduce funding for this heartless, anti-immigrant and xenophobic agenda that preys on those most vulnerable in our society. We oppose rounding up and deporting millions of immigrants who make important contributions to their families, their communities, and our society. Rather than separating families through mass deportation efforts, the U.S. government should spend more money investing in families, communities and economic security.”
“This budget goes against our nation’s deeply held belief in our shared humanity,” said Kathy Ko Chin, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum president and CEO. “The proposed cuts would devastate efforts to help keep families and communities across the country healthy.”
If enacted, the President’s FY 2018 budget would:
- Cut health and nutrition assistance programs that millions of Americans rely on.
- Ends Medicaid by converting it to a capped program or block grant. The cuts to Medicaid would be even greater than those proposed in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal bill, further reducing funding for states.
- Cuts an additional $616 billion from Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which are responsible for covering nearly 75 million adults and children, including 13.9 percent of Asian Americans and 24.9 percent of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.
- Cuts food assistance for low-income persons and families.
- Cuts the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by over $1.3 billion, which includes over $930 million in cuts to programs for
- HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, and sexually transmitted infections.
- Cuts the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) by $6 million.
- Eliminates funding for the CDC’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program.
- Maintains flat funding for the Offices of Minority Heath.
The Republican-controlled Congress is under fire from their constituents for the lawmakers' attempts to undo Obamacare so some of them are feeling the pressure. Voting for the White House budget plan could be the last straw for many of the voters who supported them in the last elections.
It's a good bet that the final budget adopted by Congress will look nothing like the White House proposals but the way things are going on in Washington and the GOP's lemming-like tendency to vote whichever way Trump wants them to vote makes us nervous. We need to keep meeting with our representatives to make sure that they represent the American people and vote for what's good for the country, not simply along party lines.