The budget proposal released by the Trump administration this week provides Democrats with fresh material to communicate with voters on Trump’s misguided priorities, and to draw a strong contrast with the plans being put forward by Democrats.
As our recent opinion research has found, Donald Trump begins the 2020 cycle under water and in trouble, but voters still give him decent marks on the economy. A majority of voters do, however, feel that their incomes are not keeping up with the rising cost of living. The costs of things like health care, education, and housing stand out in particular as economic trouble spots for voters. By nearly a two-to-one margin, our battleground survey showed that voters are more likely to believe that Trump cares mostly about helping the wealthy and corporate special interests than believe that Trump cares mostly about helping the average person. This budget will serve both to reinforce that belief with voters and showcase Trump’s wrong priorities.
Our post-election polling in November 2018 found that a plan to cut Social Security and Medicare to pay for Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy was at the top of the list of concerns for both voters who voted for a Democrat for Congress after supporting Trump and new Democratic voters. Trump’s budget does exactly that.
Democrats must work to connect voter dissatisfaction with individual economic trouble points to Trump’s misguided priorities of siding with the wealthy, especially in the current media environment where many voters are not hearing about the harmful impact of Trump’s economic policies. We must take our case directly to voters and the Trump budget provides new, relevant data points to demonstrate the urgency of the issue.
Trump’s budget goes back on his previous promises to protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and proposes massive new cuts to all three programs. It would increase health care costs for millions of Americans by repealing the ACA and Medicaid expansion; cut funding for student aid, which would exacerbate the student debt crisis and make a quality education feel even further out of reach for many Americans; and cut billions in funding for HUD to make public housing more affordable for families in need.
CNBC: Trump pledged to protect Medicare and Medicaid, but his 2020 budget calls for major spending cuts
Washington Post: Trump proposes big cuts to health programs for poor, elderly and disabled
Fortune: Trump’s Budget Proposal Could Increase College Student Debt, Raise Costs
Washington Post: “Trump proposed an $8.6 billion cut for the Department of Housing and Urban Development for 2020, a 16.4 percent decrease from the 2019 estimate that includes eliminating the Community Development Block Grant program and as well as capital improvement funds for public housing repairs. The four-decade-old community block grant program, popular among congressional Democrats and Republicans, provides cities with money for affordable housing and other community needs, such as fighting blight, improving infrastructure and delivering food to homebound seniors.”
These cuts are being proposed as part of Trump’s plan to pay for the massive tax cuts he gave to big corporations and the richest Americans. Democrats should continue to connect these dots for voters and relentlessly drive this narrative for the next year and a half.