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Economist: Trump Budget a "Devastating Blow" to Ohio

More than a third of Ohio's budget is made up of the types of federal grant dollars that President Trump's budget proposal trims by $44 billion. (whitehouse.gov)
More than a third of Ohio's budget is made up of the types of federal grant dollars that President Trump's budget proposal trims by $44 billion. (whitehouse.gov)
June 19, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio – As the federal budget process plays out in Congress, a national economist says there's a lot at stake for Ohio.

President Donald Trump's proposal attempts to balance the budget by 2027, with nearly $4.5 trillion in cuts.

The President of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Bob Greenstein, who spoke at the City Club of Cleveland on Friday, says the cuts are unprecedented, targeting food assistance, Medicaid, housing programs and job training.

He says states could only respond to that level of lost funding by raising taxes significantly, or cutting key investments and public services.

"For a state that's been struggling with economic change and inter-globalization and the like, as the Ohio economy does, and a state that's been grappling with some budget shortfalls, the Trump budget would be a pretty devastating blow," he explains.

Greenstein says the plan cut grants to states by $44 billion - and in Ohio, more than one-third of the total budget is made up of federal grants. He notes many of the proposed reductions are in programs that help the most vulnerable: children, families, the elderly and individuals with disabilities.

The cuts are being proposed as a way to fund tax cuts and increase military spending.

Democrats have strongly criticized the plan, and some Republicans are critical of certain elements. But Greenstein notes some of the measures are not unique, having been proposed by House Republicans since 2011 - including cuts to Medicaid, food assistance and job training.

"Some of the specific, individual, most unpopular proposals may be dead on arrival, but its broad themes - because they're similar to those of Congressional Republican budgets of recent years - it's a mistake to dismiss it as dead on arrival," he explains. "It needs to be taken seriously."

Greenstein says there's also concern about the House-passed American Health Care Act that would leave 23 million more Americans without health insurance. He also thinks it's troubling that Senate lawmakers haven't released any details of the Senate version of the bill.

"Health care is, like, one-sixth of the U.S. economy," he adds. "We're talking about redesigning it behind closed doors with few people knowing what's going into the bill. The way to do health care is on a bipartisan basis, and transparently."

The Senate could hold a vote on the legislation before the July 4 recess.

Mary Kuhlman/Shaine Smith, Public News Service - OH