Almost from the time his own children were born, my son-in-law has run a regional program to help children born with autism, and he was one of the thousands who celebrated Autism Awareness Day earlier this month.
As part of that celebration, President Trump said some nice-sounding words about autism. He spoke in his official capacity, but his words were hollow, because he proposes to cut off all the federal money to find autistic children and support the families caring for them.
You may very well know that autism interferes with the relationships between autistic children and others around them. A high percentage of children have autistic disorders that interfere with the way their brains process information. They may repeat the same things again and again, over and over.
Trump’s new budget sabotages programs for autism, the Special Olympics, Medicaid, Medicare, and parts of the safety net in America that compassionate Congresses have created over the past three generations, and even longer.
He has worked in every possible way to disenfranchise vulnerable people. He wants drastic reductions in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — which he always promised to protect from any cuts — and to food stamps, housing assistance, and family assistance.
He wants to cut as much as $1.5 trillion from Medicaid — that’s a lot of money! — partly by repealing the Obamacare Medicaid expansions that are helping disabled people to work at jobs. He hates Obamacare.
Obamacare expanded Medicaid and blocked insurance companies from rejecting disabled people with pre-existing medical conditions. That meant that people getting Supplemental Disability Insurance could take job opportunities for the first time without fear of going over their income limits. The Washington Post pointed out that many states that expanded Medicaid are seeing employment increases, in part because disabled people are able to work.
But despite Trump’s words, his administration is no longer requiring states to help disabled people get into workplaces that will use them.
His budget cuts disability programs by $84 billion. At least $10 billion of that would come from Social Security disability benefits through cruel changes in eligibility rules. An additional $400 million would come out of the Social Security Administration’s administrative budget. With fewer Social Security workers, older people will hear more busy signals on the phone lines and longer waits at Social Security offices.
Trump is trying to cut the food stamp program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, by $220 billion. That would mean a cut of almost a third in a program that gives food stamps to 40 million of us.
His stealth attacks and sabotage would eliminate $1.3 billion in “discretionary government programs.” In plain words that means cuts, some of them very big cuts, to programs such as housing subsidies and heating assistance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that protect us against measles, and to Head Start for children.
All in all, Trump’s meanness extends to most of the programs that we think of when we think of what the government does.
And all the while the rich get richer.