Friday, March 17, 2017

Democrats see Trump's budget cuts as a way to win over rural areas, but budget has little GOP support

Proposed changes; click on image to enlarge (Washington Post)
Democrats, who have been trying to find ways to win over rural voters after getting crushed at the polls in those areas in November, see President Trump's proposed budget as a way to get a foot in the door in rural America. The budget calls for cutting or killing many programs that benefit rural areas.

"With an eye toward winning back Trump voters from Appalachia to the Midwest, Democrats slammed rank-and-file Republicans on the White House’s pitch to slash everything from Pell Grants to the Environmental Protection Agency to the Meals on Wheels program that’s a lifeline to homebound seniors," Heather Caygle and Elana Schor report for Politico. "Democrats repeatedly cast Trump as gouging middle-class and lower-income voters with his budget, pairing it with similar arguments against the GOP’s troubled Obamacare repeal bill."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters Thursday: “The Republicans in Congress and this White House, as we’re seeing now just in a few weeks, never miss an opportunity to suck up money from the middle class. We see that in the health care bill. We see that in how they establish their budget priorities.”

The problem with that Democratic strategy is that Trump's budget hasn't won over many Republicans, Kelsey Snell and Karoun Demirjian report for The Washington Post. "Some of President Trump’s best friends in Congress sharply criticized his first budget Thursday, with defense hawks saying the proposed hike in Pentagon spending wasn’t big enough, while rural conservatives and others attacked plans to cut a wide range of federal agencies and programs."

House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.) "raised concerns that farmers could be hit hard at a time when farm income is already down 50 percent compared with four years ago," reports the Post. "Agriculture cuts are a particularly sensitive issue because periodically lawmakers spend months, if not years, hammering out the details of a comprehensive farm bill." Conaway said in a statement: “Agriculture has done more than its fair share. The bottom line is this is the start of a longer, larger process. It is a proposal, not THE budget.”

The Post reports, "It is not uncommon for Congress to disagree with some priorities in a White House budget. But the blueprint risks putting GOP lawmakers on a collision course with Trump over demands for spending cuts they cannot deliver. Even those fiscal conservatives who do want to cut spending don’t necessarily think slashing major domestic programs is the answer."

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