Advocates for low-income children looked to a grim future following the U.S. Senate’s approval of a tax-cut bill last week, one in which more kids are hungry, go without medical care, and have a harder time getting help dealing with disabilities before they start school.
The Senate tax bill does not take direct aim at any food, health, or education programs, but it does add $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit by 2027, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Politicians in Washington have already begun talking about spending cuts.
“You can really see how this tax plan is not just a tax plan; it’s the backbone and the impetus for really serious spending cuts going forward that are going to undermine children’s health and well-being and has us pretty scared,” said Rob Thompson, senior policy and communications adviser at the advocacy group NC Child.
NC Child sponsored a forum Monday on the potential effects of federal budget cuts.
The groups looked to congressional budget resolutions and President Donald Trump’s budget blueprint to predict programs that may face cuts.
In an interview, Mitch Kokai, senior political analyst at the conservative John Locke Foundation, said he looks forward to Congress following its tax cuts with spending cuts. The spending side of the equation “hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves,” he said.
But it’s a mistake for anyone to say they know where Congress will cut spending, Kokai said.
“I think it’s way too early to say where those cuts might be,” he said. “In some respects, this is like Chicken Little calling for the sky to fall.”
If spending cuts to children’s programs are proposed, he said, the groups that support them and Republicans in Congress who back those programs can work to spare them.
The specific cuts will be different from what the panel suggested, said Alexandra Sirota, director of the N.C. Budget & Tax Center at the left-leaning N.C. Justice Center, but it’s clear what’s vulnerable.
“What we do know is the broad framework is to find programs and services, many of which primarily benefit middle- and low-income families, and reduce those investments over time,” said Sirota, a panel participant.
Among the programs in jeopardy, Sirota said, are Section 8 vouchers that provide rental assistance to very low-income people seeking private housing, and to Community Development Block Grants, which help pay for libraries, sidewalks, home-repair services, after-school programs and more.