In the midst of a pivotal election year, where health care is the top concern for voters, Trump is trying to appease his most conservative friends in Congress by cutting billions from children’s health care.
The Washington Post reports that Trump is sending a plan to Congress that includes more than $15 billion in spending cuts.
And almost half of that massive amount would come from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health insurance to millions of low-income children and pregnant women.
The cuts “would come from two accounts within [CHIP] that White House officials said expired last year or are not expected to be drawn upon,” the Post notes.
It’s a blatant attempt to calm ostensible conservative anger over deficits and spending. And Trump is using vulnerable children as a heartless means to that end.
The proposed cuts include $2 billion from “contingency funds set aside in case states see higher-than-expected enrollment,” a senior administration official told the Post. The claim is that such increased enrollment isn’t likely to happen because the economy is improving.
That’s a dangerous hypothetical upon which to base justification for taking accessible health care away from low-income children.
Yet it is part of a disturbingly familiar pattern for the Trump administration and the Republican Party.
Republicans in Congress were so busy trying to repeal Obamacare and obsessing about abortion that they allowed CHIP to expire last September. And over two months later, Trump still hadn’t given the program a second thought.
In December, the GOP made it clear that kids could have health care if Republicans got something for themselves, too.
So now Trump appears poised to cave in to that callous demand. As the Post notes, conservatives were enraged over the $1.3 trillion spending package Trump signed in March. The package included a number of budget requests from Democrats. So Republicans “pushed for a rescission package to pare it back between $30 billion and $60 billion.”
And if that includes making it so children from poor families can’t see a doctor, the GOP is apparently unbothered.
And that’s nothing new. Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch made it clear in December that they couldn’t reauthorize CHIP because they gave all the money to the wealthy. The tax scam bill that took those funds is projected to add about $1 trillion to the deficit.
But they can’t manage to find a few billion to pay for kids’ health care. And voters are not going to look kindly on that.
In an April HuffPost/YouGov poll, 30 percent of voters listed health care as their top issue in the midterm elections. And that doesn’t mean they want things like Obamacare and CHIP demolished so rich people can get richer.
“Democrats enjoy a sizable advantage over the GOP on handling related issues,” HuffPost’s Ariel Edwards-Levy noted. Republicans have been busy sabotaging health care wherever they can. And Obamacare continues to gain popularity — as a lot of progressive candidates have noticed.
In a statement, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer excoriated Trump and the GOP for this cruel plan.
“It appears that sabotaging our health care system to the detriment of middle-class families wasn’t enough” for them, Schumer said. “Now they’re going after health care dollars that millions of children rely on.”
And he called out the move for exactly what it is. Trump and Congressional Republicans are “hurting middle-class families and low-income children, to appease the most conservative special interests and feel better about blowing up the deficit to give the wealthiest few and biggest corporations huge tax breaks.”