Nets Fear ‘Deep Cuts’ in Trump Budget, Ignore Ballooning Debt

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On Monday and Tuesday, the broadcast networks all read from the same liberal script as anchors and correspondents blasted the Trump administration’s proposed budget for making “deep cuts” to “social safety nets” that would be “especially cruel” to the poor. Not once was the nation’s nearly $20 trillion debt mentioned in any of the one-sided coverage.

On ABC’s Good Morning America on Monday, co-host George Stephanopoulos ominously warned viewers: “...this week Congress is going to get its first look at President Trump’s full budget. He promises to balance the budget in 10 years with big cuts in safety net programs like Medicaid.” Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce amped up the fearmongering: “...and one of his top targets, entitlements....will reportedly slash these safety nets by $1.7 trillion, including massive cuts to Medicaid, food stamps, and other anti-poverty programs.”

Bruce fretted that the budget plan would provide a “big boost in military spending” while “coupled with cuts to foreign aid and other domestic programs.” However, she quickly added that the proposal was “being met with a bit of a cold shoulder by members of both parties.”

In the discussion that followed, Chief Political Analyst Matthew Dowd reinforced the idea that the plan had no chance in Congress:

I think the problem Donald Trump has, in order to do something this dramatic, and draconian in many ways, that requires a lot of political capital and he doesn’t have a full gas tank. He doesn’t even have half a gas tank. He has a third of a gas tank of political capital, so it’s going to be really tough to get this through.

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On Monday evening’s NBC Nightly News, National Correspondent Peter Alexander employed the same talking points as ABC to denounce the budget:

The proposal, entitled A New Foundation for American Greatness, calling for sweeping cuts to entitlement programs. Medicaid, $800 billion slashed over the next decade. $190 billion from the federal food stamp program, called SNAP, that fed 42 million Americans last year. The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank now bracing for impact.

On Tuesday’s Today, he went further, arguing that President was harming his own supporters: “...because it focuses so heavily on programs benefitting the poor and disabled, it would likely hurt many of the rural and low-income Americans that voted him, President Trump, into office. As one top Democratic senator says, it’s especially cruel for people who need a handout.”

Monday’s CBS Evening News provided a full report of Chief Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes bashing the budget : “The White House wants to balance the budget in 10 years, partly through deep cuts to social programs....would also reportedly cut funding for subsidized school lunches and programs like Habitat for Humanity. Food stamps funding would be slashed by about 25%, with a new work requirement imposed on some recipients.”

She touted how the proposal “will likely meet with resistance from both parties,” before playing a soundbite of Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer declaring: “All of these are favored, these programs are favored by the American people. They’ve been favored by a vast majority of my Republican friends across the aisle.”

On Tuesday’s CBS This Morning, co-host Charlie Rose worried: The New York Times says President Trump is proposing deep funding cuts in many social safety net programs....The cuts include an $800 billion reduction to Medicaid over a decade. Food stamp funds would be cut by nearly 30%.” He concluded: “The plan is expected to meet stiff opposition in Congress.”    

While all of the network coverage sounded the alarm over the proposed "cuts" to the federal food stamp program, none of the reporting bothered to note that under the Obama administration food stamp enrollment increased by a stunning 70%. All of the reporting promoted the laughable notion that simply decreasing the rate of spending increases somehow qualifies as a "cut." 

Here are excerpts of the May 22 network coverage:

GMA
7:09 AM ET

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And as those investigations continue on Capitol Hill, this week Congress is going to get its first look at President Trump’s full budget. He promises to balance the budget in 10 years with big cuts in safety net programs like Medicaid. Our Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce is on Capitol Hill with the details. Good morning, Mary.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: White House to Unveil Budget Plan; Major Cuts to Entitlement Programs Expected]

MARY BRUCE: Good morning, George. Well, we’re getting a new glimpse at the President’s spending priorities, and one of his top targets, entitlements. The President’s budget, which will be released tomorrow, will reportedly slash these safety nets by $1.7 trillion, including massive cuts to Medicaid, food stamps, and other anti-poverty programs.

Now, as the President promised on the campaign trail, he is not touching Social Security or Medicare. Now, the President has also called for a big boost in military spending, $54 billion, coupled with cuts to foreign aid and other domestic programs. But already the President’s plan is being met with a bit of a cold shoulder by members of both parties. But, George, as always, the President’s budget just a jumping off point for negotiations up here on Capitol Hill.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Just the beginning. Okay, Mary, thanks very much. Let’s talk about it more now with our Chief Political Analyst Matthew Dowd. And you talk – you look at that description that Mary just gave, this is the President really doubling down on what we saw in that House plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare, and that’s not popular.

MATTHEW DOWD: Well, no, and I think this plan is based on a couple of premises that I think – assumptions that aren’t going to go right. One is based on the House plan on health care passing in the Senate, which looks like it met a buzz saw and it’s not going anywhere. And the other thing it’s premised on is these series of tax cuts that are baked into this that are going to somehow dramatically grow the economy and then that’s going to fix the budget. I think the problem Donald Trump has, in order to do something this dramatic, and draconian in many ways, that requires a lot of political capital and he doesn’t have a full gas tank. He doesn’t even have half a gas tank. He has a third of a gas tank of political capital, so it’s going to be really tough to get this through.

(...)


NBC Nightly News
7:07 PM ET

(...)

PETER ALEXANDER: On Capitol Hill tonight, Vice President Pence laser-focused on the administration’s budget plan out tomorrow. The proposal, entitled A New Foundation for American Greatness, calling for sweeping cuts to entitlement programs. Medicaid, $800 billion slashed over the next decade. $190 billion from the federal food stamp program, called SNAP, that fed 42 million Americans last year. The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank now bracing for impact.

MICHAEL FLOOD [LOS ANGELES REGIONAL FOOD BANK PRESIDENT & CEO]: There’s going to be a bigger hole in their budget and they need to find a way to fill that hole in some fashion.  

ALEXANDER: Also targeted, Social Security disability insurance that benefits more than 10 million Americans.

MAYA MACGUINEAS [COMMITTEE FOR RESPONSIBLE FEDERAL BUDGET PRESIDENT]: When you look at their policy priorities and you look at their kind of magical numbers they’re going to use for economic growth, I’m very concerned that this budget will make the fiscal situation worse instead of better.

ALEXANDER: With a budget rollout looming and the Russia investigation intensifying, two of the President’s top advisors, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon left the foreign trip early, returning home back here to the White House.

(...)


CBS Evening News
6:38 PM ET

SCOTT PELLEY: And with the President overseas, the Vice President is running point for him on a big domestic issue, the budget. Here’s our Chief Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes.

NANCY CORDES: Vice President Pence and Republican leaders met this afternoon to go over the administration’s first major budget proposal, due out tomorrow. The White House wants to balance the budget in 10 years, partly through deep cuts to social programs. For starters, the proposal embraces the $800 billion in Medicaid cuts outlined in the House ObamaCare replacement bill, despite candidate Trump’s promise not to touch Medicaid.

DONALD TRUMP: Save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts. Have to do it.

CORDES: The President’s budget would also reportedly cut funding for subsidized school lunches and programs like Habitat for Humanity. Food stamps funding would be slashed by about 25%, with a new work requirement imposed on some recipients.

MYRA YOUNG: I’m a working mom so it’s not like I'm a welfare recipient sitting home not doing nothing.

CORDES: Myra Young is a nurse’s assistant in Philadelphia who gets $100 worth of food stamps a month. Her son relies on Medicaid.

YOUNG: My tax money pays for my food stamps. And you don’t even give me enough to feed my children.

CORDES: The White House budget does add funding to one social program, a new nationwide paid parental leave initiative proposed by Ivanka Trump. But the other cuts go deeper than most Republicans in Congress have proposed, and will likely meet with resistance from both parties. Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER [D-NY, SENATE MINORITY LEADER]: All of these are favored, these programs are favored by the American people. They’ve been favored by a vast majority of my Republican friends across the aisle.

CORDES: The White House budget is going to propose additional funding for the military and for infrastructure. But for any of these changes to take effect, Scott, this budget is going to have to garner significantly more Republican support than an early draft did about two months ago.

PELLEY: Nancy Cordes on Capitol Hill.