In his populist run for the White House, President Donald Trump ignited ordinary people, most of them white, many of them working class, plenty of them poor and receiving government aid. Under Trump, he promised, the economy would grow, the deficit would vanish, voters would enjoy “the biggest tax cut in history” and a better, cheaper health care system would cover all.
So, on the three major policy proposals he’s supporting, how are his promises coming?
The Congressional Budget Office has released its analysis of the American Health Care Act, House Republicans’ and Trump’s answer to Obamacare.
Over 10 years, the AHCA would cost 14 million people Medicaid coverage, thanks to an $835 billion cut. Election analysts estimate that 39 percent of Medicaid recipients who voted went for Trump. According to the congressional analysis, the AHCA would lead to big price hikes for older Americans, such as voters 45 to 64 who favored Trump by 9 percentage points. The AHCA also would end a Medicare payroll surtax on the wealthy. That would bring Medicare — a program Trump swore to protect and whose recipients favored him by 8 percentage points — three years closer to a bankruptcy, now projected for 2023.
The 2018 federal budget
The administration also has released its federal budget. The plan’s big assumption is that economic growth can average 3 percent a year over a decade while the Congressional Budget Office’s current projection is 1.8 percent. That’s far from the only problem with this budget. The proposed 29 percent cut to the State Department is dangerous. Huge cuts in food assistance and low-income heating aid were met with bipartisan disgust because about 10 million senior citizens qualify for food stamps and about 7 million households get help from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Economists are also baffled that the document uses the same unlikely $2 trillion in revenue created by the promised economic boom twice, once for tax cuts and again to balance the budget.
Trump’s tax reform would cut the number of tax brackets from seven to three — of 10, 25 and 35 percent — but hasn’t yet set income levels for each. It doubles the standard deduction, helping some low-income Americans escape income taxes altogether, but eliminating deductions for state and local income and property taxes could really sting people in places like New York, where such costs are high. The rich, though, would make out like gangbusters. The tax plan would eliminate the estate tax, cut the top personal tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent, and lower the income tax paid on closely held businesses and partnerships from 39.6 percent to 15 percent. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says the top 1 percent of households would see net income increase 14 percent, while the bump for the middle class would be just over 1 percent.
Donald Trump promised to side with average Americans. Yet with every significant policy proposal, he has turned his back on them. Trump’s health care plan, budget blueprint and tax reform agenda are unworkable for the country. Worse, they are crushing blows to the voters who helped him win the office, and a brazen betrayal.