Women and Children Come Second in Trump’s America
Last week, President Trump unveiled a “budget blueprint” that calls for the elimination or severe reduction to countless programs that serve the poor, elderly, disabled, women and communities of color across the country. In what his budget office is calling an “America First” proposal, the plan sends a clear message that women and families come second.
Every year in America, men earn more than women and women are more likely to be in poverty. In Connecticut, 13.5% of women live in poverty, slightly above the national average. Fifty-six percent of female-headed households in Connecticut earn below the Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) Threshold, or the average level of income that a household in our state needs to afford basic necessities such as food, childcare, healthcare, housing and transportation. Trump’s proposal and the cuts it signals have devastating consequences on the opportunity for women and families in our state to achieve economic self-sufficiency.
Among the items of particular concern in Trump’s budget proposal:
- Reduction of funding for the Department of Agriculture by 21 percent, with potential deep cuts to the critical Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). WIC provides low-income mothers and their young children with food, nutrition education and health care referrals they would otherwise go without. In Connecticut, WIC serves about 60,000 participants per month and is a vital service for low-income women and their families.
- Reduction of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) funding by 18 percent. The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, a large source of funding for Connecticut’s domestic violence programs, falls under HHS. The Connecticut Coalition of Domestic Violence’s eighteen member organizations served close to 40,000 victims of domestic violence in fiscal year 2016. Domestic violence services in Connecticut are already pressed financially within our state’s budget environment. Further reductions to funding at the federal level will prevent victims of abuse from the services they need to stay safe.
- Full elimination of funding for the Legal Services Corporation, an independent nonprofit established by Congress in the 1970s that provides legal assistance to Americans in poverty. Connecticut receives more than $2.5 million in federal funding from the LSC to assist with low-income clients in cases that pertain to family law, employment discrimination, child custody and alimony. In 2014, Connecticut legal aid programs assisted nearly 18,000 people, including more than 7,000 children to achieve equal access to justice. For decades, CWEALF has worked alongside legal aid organizations in Connecticut to close the civil justice gap, a discrepancy that hinders those who earn just above poverty and are ineligible for legal aid, but not enough to afford an attorney. One-third of CWEALF’s clients are referrals from legal aid organizations.
- Reduction of the Department of Labor budget by 21%. Its cuts would reduce funding for or eliminate programs that provide job training to low-income workers, unemployed seniors, disadvantaged youth and for state-based job training grants. Reductions to the Department of Labor and the Justice Department may also lead to weaker enforcement of equal pay protections and national progress towards an inclusive, comprehensive system of paid family and medical leave. Currently, women in Connecticut earn 83 cents to every dollar earned by men, while our nation’s lack of paid family and medical leave forces one in four new moms to return to work within just two weeks of giving birth.
- Elimination of funding for Community Development Block Grants, a program of the Department of Housing and Urban Development that’s provided cities with the money to address a range of community development needs. Trump’s plan specifically calls for the elimination of the CT HOME program, a $6.5 million federal block grant that gives funding to states and localities for affordable housing. Access to affordable housing fulfills a basic human need of low-income women and families in our state.
The proposed budget threatens the progress of women in the workforce and continues the administration’s rhetoric that women, people of color, immigrants, the elderly and the disabled are second class citizens.
Here at CWEALF, we are committed as ever to the fight for equality for women and girls in our state. Congress must hear the message loud and clear that we reject this budget proposal and stand by our values and priorities that lift up women and families in Connecticut.
By CWEALF at 20 Mar 2017, 13:40 PM
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