NYT Goes on Victim Hunt as Trump’s ‘Improbable’ First Budget Plan Makes Debut

The New York Times was single-minded in its attack on President Trump’s first budget proposal. Little emphasis on the potential savings to taxpayers and reductions to the deficit (if the optimistic economic growth goals are met). Instead the Times went on a nationwide person-hunt for potential victims of the hypothetical budget cuts, based on current spending levels that have been inflated over decades of federal overspending. Obama's budget-busting budgets by contrast invariably received optimistic treatment of their most dubious and  grandiose promises, from supposedly cynical Times reporters.

Reporter Julie Hirschfeld Davis even managed to work in the word “improbable” in the second paragraph of her lead story on Tuesday, “Budget Plan Cuts Deeply Into Anti-Poverty Efforts – Lower Taxes and More Security Spending in Wish List Built on Optimistic Models.”

President Trump plans to unveil on Tuesday a $4.1 trillion budget for 2018 that would cut deeply into programs for the poor, from health care and food stamps to student loans and disability payments, laying out an austere vision for reordering the nation’s priorities.

The document, grandly titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” encapsulates much of the “America first” message that powered Mr. Trump’s campaign. It calls for an increase in military spending of 10 percent and spending more than $2.6 billion for border security -- including $1.6 billion to begin work on a wall on the border with Mexico -- as well as huge tax reductions and an improbable promise of 3 percent economic growth.

Monday’s paper featured a two-page photo spread with text from reporters Yamiche Alcindor and Sam Hodgson, “Meet the People Facing Trump’s Budget Cuts.” Alcindor returned on Tuesday with “Spending Plan Slashes Programs for the Poor.”

President Trump’s spending blueprint seeks to balance the federal budget through unprecedented cuts to programs for poor and working-class families, effectively pitting them against older Americans who would largely escape the budget ax.

In ways large and small, the budget, to be released Tuesday, seeks to curtail spending on poorer recipients of government largess. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known commonly as food stamps, would be cut by $192 billion over the next decade. Medicaid, the health program for the poor, would be cut by $800 billion, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, commonly known as welfare, would be cut by $21 billion.

Alcindor showed some labeling imbalance and overkill here (she did later label another opposition group “liberal.”)

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Conservatives cheered the proposals.

“The way that the left approaches it is as if any spending level in the current system that has ever been attained is sacrosanct, and they will fight to the death to maintain that even if the programs are of pretty dubious value,” said Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation who specializes in welfare and poverty. “If you look at cash, food and housing for families with children, the total spending is roughly twice what is needed to raise every single child above the poverty level.”

Not since President Ronald Reagan’s first budget proposal have programs for the poor been targeted so thoroughly. To critics, it is the opposite of compassion, especially in light of Mr. Trump’s broader plan to cut taxes for the rich, increase military spending and fund his proposed wall on the Mexican border.

“This is overall an assault on a wide range of ordinary Americans for the purpose of providing tax cuts to the wealthiest,” said Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy, a nonprofit group focused on low-income Americans. “It’s both devastating and it’s, to me, completely in opposition to our national interests -- investing in children and families and workers.”

A “news analysis” Tuesday by Binyamin Appelbaum and Alan Rappeport, “A Budget That Works Only if Wishes Come True,” was as dismissive as its headlined suggested.

In its inaugural budget, the Trump administration projected that booming economic growth would allow the president to keep a wide range of expensive campaign promises while eliminating federal deficits in 10 years.

It is wishful thinking.

The budget promises a deep tax cut for businesses and consumers that would not reduce federal revenue. An increase in military spending would be offset by trillions of dollars of unspecified or loosely sketched reductions in federal spending.

And it all works because the budget assumes an acceleration of economic growth to an annual pace of 3 percent a year, much higher than the post-recession average of 2 percent.

Budget Medicare Labeling New York Times Binyamin Appelbaum Julie Hirschfeld Davis Yamiche Alcindor
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