Right before the December holidays last year, the GOP passed a massive $1.5 trillion in tax cuts that largely benefitted the wealthiest of Americans. In addition to a spending increase approved in the two-year budget passed in February, Donald Trump and Republicans are now scaremongering about the (self-imposed) deficit to try to employ a rarely-used maneuver called “rescission” in order to rescind $15 billion in spending that the government had previously authorized.
Nearly half of those total cuts—around $7 billion—would come from the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Reuters reported Monday. The package would have to be passed with a majority vote, likely requiring unanimity among Republicans.
White House officials insist that the cuts to CHIP are coming from unspent funds and that they would not affect the budget deal that was passed. But these cuts are likely to be only the first of many that the administration will try to push through. According to Reuters: “More ‘rescission’ packages, including a ‘large’ one that would address cuts Trump wants from that deal, would be forthcoming, one senior administration official said.” And conservative groups backed by wealthy donors like the Koch brothers—who profited handily off the tax bill—are pushing for even deeper cuts.
This situation—in which tax cuts for the wealthy are rolled out to justify spending cuts on programs for the poor—is one that Republicans like Paul Ryan have deliberately set up. Their approach could not have been clearer than in December, when Senator Orrin Hatch, the original co-sponsor of CHIP, helped push the tax bill through and then immediately claimed that “we don’t have money anymore” for CHIP.
No anti-poverty programs will be safe until the Republican Party is thrown out of office. Luckily, voters will soon have their chance in the looming midterm elections.