Franken, Walz say budget would hurt Minnesotans; Ryan voices support, but other Republicans criticize bill
Published 8:29 am Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Austin Daily Herald and the Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Minnesota Democrats are joining the party chorus line in arguing President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would contradict many of the promises he made on the presidential campaign trail.
First District U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, who plans to run for governor in 2018, issued a statement saying the budget betrays those the president “promised he would take care of: rural Americans like Minnesota’s farmers, seniors, folks seeking health care, and our most vulnerable fellow citizens”
“President Trump’s budget outline is an all-out assault on our quality of life in southern Minnesota and across America’s heartland,” Walz said in a statement. “While the President’s tax plan amounts to one big giveaway for millionaires and billionaires, his proposal today is a cruel, unjust, and downright spiteful excuse of a budget borne on the backs of the working-class, retirees, and veterans.
“Instead of investing in our main street economies, next generation jobs and workforce training for the future, it leaves out in the cold rural nursing homes and hospitals, research and development, veterans on Medicaid, and folks who depend on supplemental nutrition assistance to survive,” he continued.
Likewise, Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken called the budget “a disaster for families in Minnesota and across the country.”
“If enacted, his budget would cut Social Security, betraying a campaign promise he made to the American people, and it would totally dismantle Medicaid as we know it, a vital program that provides care to more than a million Minnesotans — predominately children, seniors, and the disabled,” Franken said in a statement. “The president’s budget also rips food and nutritional support away from low-income families, puts children’s health at risk, slashes funding for critical medical research, attacks the public education system, makes college less affordable, and harms our farmers and ranchers and rural communities.”
Last month, Franken visited The Hormel Institute in Austin to discuss the budget’s potential impacts, especially on national funding sources for Institute scientists. At the time, he expected the budget to meet opposition.
“This is not about Republicans versus Democrats,” he said during his April visit to Austin. “These cuts have bipartisan opposition in Congress. I believe once this budget comes to a vote in Congress, it will be dead on arrival.”
Along with the expected Democratic opposition, some Republicans are against it, like Franken predicted. No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn calls the budget “dead on arrival.”
Longtime GOP Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky calls Trump’s proposed cuts to domestic safety net programs “draconian.”
Another senior Republican lawmaker, Fred Upton of Michigan, questioned inclusion of money for Trump’s border wall, remarking: “I thought Mexico was going to pay for the wall, why is this in our budget?”
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin dismissed such criticism as typical rhetoric and praised the budget because it balances over 10 years.
Ryan says Trump’s budget proposal for the coming fiscal year prioritizes “American taxpayers over Washington bureaucrats” while strengthening the military.
Trump’s $4.1 trillion spending plan proposes to eliminate the deficit in a decade while protecting Social Security and Medicare. Ryan says “we can finally turn the page on the Obama era of bloated budgets that never balance.”
The proposed 2018 budget immediately came under attack by Democrats, and even some GOP allies deemed it a non-starter. The proposal is laced with $3.6 trillion in cuts to domestic agencies, food stamps, Medicaid, highway funding, crop insurance and medical research, among others.
At the same time, the blueprint boosts spending on the military by tens of billions and calls for $1.6 billion for a border wall with Mexico that Trump repeatedly promised voters the U.S. neighbor would finance. Mexico emphatically rejects that notion.
While Walz said he’s for balancing the budget, he called for doing it a responsible, timely manner, and he said Trump’s proposal epitomizes how not to go about it.”
“It is not in line with our Midwestern values and it is not in line with our American values,” Walz said. “The President is required by law to submit a budget, and he has done so. But now it is Congress’ job to actually determine what that budget will be. I will fight tooth and nail to ensure this heartless proposal never touches the fabric of our way of life here in the First District, and I call on every single one of my Republican
Trump is seeking sharp cuts in a variety of programs for the poor from Medicaid to food stamps and disability payments.
Ryan says “President Trump has proven his commitment to fiscal responsibility with a budget that will grow the economy.”
Ryan isn’t making any promises about passing the Trump budget, though. He says he looks forward to working with Budget Committee leaders to “pass a balanced budget.”
Independent economists say the budget relies on unrealistic projections of economic growth, but Ryan sidestepped that question, saying faster growth would “help so many of our problems.”
In their arguments against the budget, Democrats are particularly focused on tax cuts that would benefit the wealthiest Americans. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., calls the budget a massive transfer of wealth from working families and the elderly to the wealthiest 1 percent. He calls it “immoral.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., says the budget would harm many Trump supporters, but he’s optimistic it will be roundly rejected.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says the budget cuts Social Security Disability Insurance and would trim the National Institutes of Health budget by nearly 20 percent. She says cuts to education are “one of the dumbest budget moves they can make.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer says he can’t recall in his 36 years in Congress any budget sent to the Congress with a “less realistic” chance of being enacted than the one President Donald Trump unveiled on Tuesday.