Oakland The devil is in the details, not on Saturday Night Live, and his footprints are becoming clearer as the top notes become louder on the Trump Administration’s true plans for the country as revealed by their more detailed budget proposal. Tremendous cuts are being proposed for entitlements, some $800 billion over ten years in Medicaid, because, hey, they have to take money from poorer Americans in order to propose huge tax cuts to richer Americans and cut down taxes for corporations now enjoying record profits. Food stamps, which are now called SNAP, will have forced work requirements. States will be given more flexibility to lard on other impediments to receiving actual benefits and making the process of accessing benefits even more draconian. Hardest hit may be people on SSI disability payments. Trump promised not to cut Medicare or Social Security, but SSI for some reason seem like fair game to them, even though these payments are lifelines for many. Early, rough estimates are that 10 million poor people will be hammered by the budget, if it actually emerges in this form.
What’s the rationale? Well, if corporations and the rich are given carte blanche then supposedly jobs will be created and that will solve everything.
Where have we heard that recently? Yes, Kansas, which is on most lists in the USA of what counts as a “failed state.” Former Senator Brownback became governor of Kansas several years ago and with a whooping, red state legislature, cut state taxes to the bone with the same rationale. Jobs were going to grow in like wheat in Kansas and the volume of new jobs and business would replace the lost revenue. We can only wish that President Trump and his people had looked at how this had worked out in Kansas. State revenue plummeted. Cutbacks to public education forced one court action after another with the state legislature now under court order by the Kansas Supreme Court to come up with the money to fund the schools under constitutional mandate or face the consequences. People are being hurt in Kansas and the economy is a wreck, but “message to the men from Mars,” there is a political backlash. Some legislators who touted the plan have been defeated. Even Republicans are wary of Brownback’s proposals, and the rare Democrats in the state of Kansas are in resurgence. There are lessons that could be learned in Kansas, if anyone at the White House bothered.
But, there are also lessons that could be learned everywhere, if the President and his people, actually talked to people in the neighborhoods. Yesterday, our Home Savers Campaign team was again on the doors in Detroit. We were focusing on Vision Property Management, and the visits were grim. A Latino family had bought a Vision rent-to-own next door to where they lived for their mother to live in. They were now coming to decision point on the agreement where they have to either make a $15,000 balloon payment, sign another long term extension of their agreement, or walkaway. They were unsure where to go next. Another family had successfully negotiated a change with Vision from rent-to-own to a land contract, but then the roof had collapsed on them within months after they signed and they were also uncertain. Other families had no clue what was in their agreements.
These are all working families with jobs trying to find affordable housing, and often depending on SSI, food stamps, subsidized school lunches, and the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Why are their lives not as valuable as the rich? Why can’t they get a break?