Food, shelter, safety, health. We know these as “basic needs” because human survival depends on them. Everything we want children to achieve — a solid education, a successful career, a healthy family of their own — stems from meeting their most basic needs early in life.
The proposed federal budget released by the White House this week is an attack on these needs and the poorest families who rely on help from our federal government. Cuts amounting to over $150 billion over the next decade from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs would make it even harder for struggling families to put food on the table. Cuts to rental assistance and the complete elimination of low-income energy assistance programs would leave over 250,000 low-income families without stable or safe homes. Total cuts to health care amounting to $1.85 trillion over ten years would decimate Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid. Fifty percent of all people who rely on Medicaid for health care coverage are children, including over 400,000 children in Oregon who rely on Medicaid and CHIP. Over the next decade, the proposed budget will slash trillions of dollars from safety net programs and services that help to fulfill the most basic needs of our country’s most vulnerable children.
Combined with additional cuts to education, rural health, and the total elimination of job training programs, the proposed budget adds up to disaster for children now and for our country in the future. Cuts this deep will deny struggling families the opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their kids.
We know that educational attainment is the surest way out of poverty. We know that coverage through Medicaid, the nation’s largest children’s health insurer, leads to lower drop-out rates and higher college graduation rates, reduced adolescent mortality, and higher lifetime wealth and income rates. We know that self-sufficiency programs like SNAP and TANF provide a necessary bridge so the neediest families receive help while they get back on their feet.
Failure to fulfill children’s basic needs early on in life comes at the expense of their futures, and the future of our country. Children need food, shelter, safety, and health — not cuts.