BUILD Initiative Blog | A New Foundation for American Greediness:
Strong Foundations For Our Youngest Children

BUILDing Strong Foundations

BUILD Initiative Blog



By Ruth Trombka, BUILD Initiative Editor and Writer  

Trump’s federal spending proposal, released on Tuesday, balances the budget on the backs of children, poor people, and working families. Just a handful of the cuts the New York Times referred to as “unprecedented” include: 29% to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), 19% to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), 17% to Medicaid, and 13.1% to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).[1]  Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy, said that the proposed cuts are, “…both devastating and…completely in opposition to our national interests — investing in children and families and workers.”[2] In fact, the cuts are misguided and cruel – but not surprising.

Conservatives have a long-held belief that not only has been proven wrong, but that disproportionally has harmed families of color. They say that providing help to the poor creates dependency on government programs and discourages work. However, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “More than 90 percent of the benefit dollars that these programs spend go to assist people who are elderly, seriously disabled or members of working households – not to able-bodied, working-age Americans who choose not to work.”[3]  Conservatives say that cutting food stamps will inspire people to get jobs and that able-bodied people are getting food stamps instead of working. However, many of those who use food stamps already are working. According to Feeding America, “76 percent of SNAP households included a child, an elderly person or a disabled person. These vulnerable households receive 83 percent of all SNAP benefits.”[4] Further, according to the USDA, “Over 30 percent of SNAP households had earnings in 2011 and 41 percent of all SNAP participants lived in a household with earnings.”[5] Given these facts, it’s clear to see that the proposed budget will not achieve the goal for which its architects say they are aiming: to get people “off of those programs and get back in charge of their own lives.”[6]

Chances of thriving in school and in life are structured by the opportunities available to the child’s family and community in his or her first years. With 48%[7] of U.S. children already living in poverty, often in conditions that make access to high-quality early learning programs and services beyond their reach, the proposed cuts will make a bad situation far worse. We need to dismantle the inequitable policies and structures that limit these opportunities – not create new ones.


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