By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
The budget the White House sent up to Capitol Hill yesterday is causing a lot of consternation in New Jersey.
“I mean, it’s the most draconian budget I’ve ever seen since I’ve been here. Some compare it to Herbert Hoover in the sense that the federal government is basically getting out of so many areas where we could create jobs and improve the economy,” said Rep. Frank Pallone.
The budget cuts Medicaid by $600 billion over ten years, on top of the $880 billion planned cut from the Republican health care bill.
It cuts food stamps; cuts LIHEAP, the low income home energy assistance program; it contains no funding for the Gateway Tunnel project; the Superfund clean-up program is cut $330 million and it eliminates the tax deduction for state and local taxes paid — a break that means a lot in the state with the highest property taxes in the nation.
“The Trump budget is really a disaster for New Jersey and for residents across the state,” said Jon Whiten, vice president of NJ Police Perspective. “It slashes assistance for health care 1.6 million New Jerseyans rely on. It slashes assistance for food and nutrition 900,000 New Jerseyans rely on. It completely eliminates assistance for home heating 800,000 New Jerseyans rely on, and really the list goes on, and on, and on and on.”
White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney presented the proposal yesterday. Congress has until October to rework it and pass it.
Mulvaney said it puts taxpayers ahead of people who depend on government programs.
“I got a couple questions yesterday, I know I will today, about compassion. Compassion needs to be on both sides of that equation. Yes, you have to have compassion for folks who are receiving the federal funds, but also you have to have compassion for the folks who are paying it,” Mulvaney said.
Trump’s priorities are reflected in what gets spending increases in the budget plan: the military, border security, law enforcement, veterans, school choice and paid parental leave.
The pressure is on for New Jersey Republican congressmen to ameliorate some of the harsher cuts that will disproportionately affect New Jerseyans.
Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, who will control part of the process as House Appropriations Committee chairman, said in a statement that the final product will, “… uphold our core American values.”
A statement from Rep. Leonard Lance said, “The president’s budget is just a wish list. It is Congress that controls the power of the purse.”
And Rep. Frank LoBiondo tweeted out essentially the same, “… Only initial step in annual budget process. Congress has final say.”
Gov. Chris Christie was asked yesterday what he’ll do to soften the impact on New Jersey.
“Remember something, guys. I’m not the president of the United States, I’m not the vice-president of the United States, I’m not the chief of staff to the White House. I don’t sit here and pour over the federal budget the morning it comes out,” he said.
Some are proclaiming the Trump budget dead on arrival. Clearly there is going to be a lot of push and pull on this one, which seems to be the norm these days.