Advocates For Poor In Boston Warn Trump Budget Plan Would Be Detrimental

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Budget Director Mick Mulvaney speak to the media about President Donald Trump's proposed fiscal 2018 federal budget in Washington on Tuesday. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
Budget Director Mick Mulvaney speak to the media about President Donald Trump's proposed fiscal 2018 federal budget in Washington on Tuesday. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Advocates for the poor — in Boston and beyond — are lambasting the federal budget proposed by President Trump.

The $4.1 trillion spending plan released Tuesday seeks to eliminate the deficit in a decade but proposes cutting programs ranging from Medicaid to food stamps to disability payments.

Reactions In Boston To Trump's Proposed Cuts

A staffer and volunteer fill a bag of groceries at the food pantry located in the back room of the Action for Boston Community Development Neighborhood Opportunity Center in Roxbury.

The food will go to one of nearly 4,200 families who rely on the ABCD food pantries around the city. The nonprofit community assistance agency administers several other programs, including energy assistance, elder services, housing assistance and early childhood education and care.

Last year alone, ABCD provided services to more than 108,000 low-income individuals, including Janice Mewborn of Dorchester. She volunteers at the center in exchange for a voucher to send her 5-year-old daughter to daycare.

"It helps me to be independent," says Mewborn. "I don't have to worry about a babysitter. I can be at ease while I'm at work. Even though I'm volunteering, it's still work. But it's something that I enjoy because when I look at the clients that come into ABCD, I see a little bit of myself. So that kind of makes me more compassionate when I'm servicing them and have a good listening ear."

When it comes to the president's proposed budget cuts, Mewborn wishes those in power would have a better listening ear as well.

"I think a couple of people from Washington need to come and really sit down and go day-to-day in these programs and see what kind of services they're providing to people and see where the service need is," Mewborn says. "It's not just that everybody is asking for a free handout."

'It Would Just Drive People To The Streets'

"If this were to go through, I'm not sure the best way to describe it. Bangladesh? Parts of Rio on the bottom of the hill?" says ABCD President and CEO John Drew. He says the services his agency provides are vital to the community.

"We keep a lot of people in this country in place, from falling off the edge of the earth, with food, with heat," he says, "and then when we're trying to help people get going with student loans, get access to housing in Boston.

"And there's still enough hope in low-income families [that] maybe they can move on. This just cuts it all out."

Drew hopes members of Congress from both sides of the aisle will reject the president's budget and adopt a more humane spending plan. He says if not, ABCD's future would be in jeopardy.

"If this budget, as I can see it, was to be put in place on Oct. 1, we would be open but barely operating," Drew says.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh agrees the proposed budget would be detrimental to ABCD and many other area programs like it.

"Clearly, there's a disconnect. The people putting the budgets together at the White House have no understanding of how America works, or how poor people and the middle class work," Walsh says. "We're still analyzing the budget, but they're very deep cuts. It would just drive people to the streets."

The White House budget chief says they will no longer measure compassion by the number of programs or the number of people on those programs, but will instead measure success by the number of people helped off the programs.

Still, the Trump budget faces uncertainty on Capitol Hill. John Cornyn, the Senate's No. 2 Republican, called it "dead on arrival."

This segment aired on May 24, 2017.


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Steve Brown Senior Reporter/Anchor
Steve Brown is a veteran broadcast journalist who serves as WBUR's senior State House reporter.



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