Trump’s Budget Leaves Women and Girls Behind

If all you knew about our nation’s economy in 2020 is what the President told you at his State of the Union, you could be forgiven for assuming the United States was a land without hunger or need. But between his lines of praise for a rising stock market that benefits the wealthiest Americans was a plan to further destabilize and deny support to tens of millions of Americans still living in poverty.

Just a week after giving his State of the Union, President Trump put forward a proposed budget slashing billions from programs that disproportionately benefit women and girls—including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—to pay for tax cuts for millionaires and corporations. The budget guts affordable housing, education, and labor protections to pay for a racist border wall, asking for sacrifices from low-income children in the school lunch line, single moms struggling to put food on the table, and seniors choosing between medicine and turning the heat on. But it asks nothing of the corporations who pay wages so low that people need to make these impossible choices. 

Trump’s budget blueprint is hundreds of pages, with dozens of spreadsheets and tables. But at its core, it’s a statement about who this President values and who he doesn’t.

(A Jones / Creative Commons)

At the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), we examined programs on the chopping block in Trump’s budget across five agencies that most closely relate to economic opportunity. We found that two thirds of the cuts (65%) were to programs that disproportionately serve women, children and families.

While annual spending levels are already set for the coming year Trump includes executive actions he has or will take unilaterally, without approval from Congress, including existing rules we are actively fighting and harsh proposals that will have a real and tangible impact on the lives of the most marginalized women and girls.

The President’s budget enshrines his plan to unilaterally lower the federal poverty threshold, which will result in millions of people losing access to means-tested programs like nutrition assistance, Medicaid, and Head Start over time; expands draconian time limits on Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP); and proposes 50- to 65-year-olds should lose benefits if they can’t document sufficient work hours for more than three months. 

He throws up a maze of red tape to disabled women and their families, forcing more frequent and expensive documentation of disabilities in order to keep life-saving benefits like Social Security Disability Insurance. He unilaterally rolls back fair housing protections, which are crucial to promote economic opportunity for all. 

While the damage this President can do on his own is awful enough, the rest of budget presents the terrifying vision Trump has for our country, even if he needs Congressional approval to enact it.

If allowed, Trump would extend the lopsided tax cuts he signed into law in 2017, which benefit wealthy individuals and corporations, and proposes making individual tax cuts permanent— paid for, in part, by $182 billion over 10 years in new cuts to SNAP, $1 trillion in cuts to Medicaid and eliminating programs that provide home energy assistance to help seniors keep the heat on this winter, legal aid to families to help them avoid eviction or escape domestic violence and economic development assistance for high-poverty areas.

Families should not be misled by fig leaves on paid leave and child care. In his State of the Union, Trump touted proposals which, like other sham efforts the administration has embraced, excludes many people who need paid leave, like those battling critical health conditions or caring for family members. The budget also stifles federal child care funding and includes a dangerous proposal that would give states temporary funding to build child care supply in exchange for permanent rollbacks of basic health and safety protections for children. While moving billions in dollars to help corporations and the ultra-rich, Trump leaves behind millions of families struggling to provide for their basic needs. 

It is no coincidence that many of these attacks are targeted at programs that disproportionately benefit women and girls, who comprise two-thirds of the poorly paid workforce and who are more likely to be in poverty at every stage of life. Other portions of the budget—including gutting workplace protections for women from the Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the cuts to career training programs—would decrease each the key supports helping women work with equality, safety and dignity. 

This budget reveals how and why economic progress continues to leave behind millions of women and working families—especially those facing multiple forms of marginalization like women and girls of colors, with disabilities or who are LGBTQ.

Our economy is designed to leave behind women and girls, and it is the job of the federal government to fight these inequities and ensure no working family is forced to face the hunger  or poverty that result from them.


Melissa Boteach is the Vice President for Income Security and Child Care / Early Learning at the National Women’s Law Center and a member of the Tax March board.