Other Opinions

President Trump’s cuts to Medicare and Medicaid are disastrous for the Central Valley

Rep. TJ Cox, D-Fresno, talks about the government shutdown during a political forum in Fresno on Jan. 18, 2019.
Rep. TJ Cox, D-Fresno, talks about the government shutdown during a political forum in Fresno on Jan. 18, 2019. Fresno Bee file

President Trump just delivered his budget to Congress — and his plans were eye-opening. As the old political cliché goes, show me your budget, and I’ll show you your priorities. This administration’s priorities are clear — devastating cuts to Social Security, Medicare, agriculture, education and research, all to pay for increased military spending and naturally, billions of dollars for the expensive and ineffective border wall.

The president’s budget plans to slash $500 billion from Medicare, a critical program that seniors have paid into for their entire lives. On top of that, the proposed budget would eliminate a whopping $1.5 trillion from Medicaid — a program that 50 percent of the people in the 21st congressional district rely on for health care. The president’s repeated campaign promises that he would never cut Medicare and Social Security? Gone. His promise to invest in America’s infrastructure? Forgotten.

This comes as the Central Valley is reeling from skyrocketing health care costs and continued difficulties to operate rural health clinics and hospitals.

Remember the tax cuts promised in last year’s tax bill? Across the board, Californians’ tax bills are larger and tax refunds smaller. Because of the tax bill, where 83 percent of the benefits went to our nation’s richest 1 percent, we’ll hit a trillion-dollar deficit this year and for every year in our foreseeable future.

Less health care for you. Permanent tax cuts for the wealthiest. Skyrocketing budget deficits. That’s what this budget promises — perfect for the elite, but disastrous for hard-working American families.

The White House stated that its budget was the first position as part of a negotiating process. As a businessman, I understand the need to negotiate. I’ve done it for two decades right here in the Valley. I know how government and private business can come together to deliver new jobs and opportunity for our communities. But, I also know that there are certain things you can never negotiate on. For me, that’s the well-being of our seniors and of our most vulnerable.

We made a promise to our seniors — if you pay into Medicare for your whole working life, it will be there when you retire. We cannot undercut this pledge, and I refuse to use our seniors as bargaining chips so that the other side can score political points ahead of an election.

This new Congress was elected to deliver. That means working across the aisle, and yes, it means negotiating. But it also means that we need both parties to propose reasonable legislation and a budget in good faith. President Trump knows that these massive, $2 trillion cuts to Medicare and Medicaid are deal breakers, and the president’s party knows it too. This is irresponsible and dangerous.

In Congress, my priorities are clear — to make a positive difference in the lives of the families I serve. We’re doing that today by working on water infrastructure legislation, improved health care access, reducing prescription drug prices and increasing educational and job opportunities for our residents.

Unfortunately, the president’s budget works against these goals. Our budget that will be offered in the coming weeks will reflect what our priorities are — to protect our seniors’ future, increase financial security for American families and shore up the programs on which our most vulnerable rely. I urge the president and his party to work with us on advancing an agenda for working Americans, not an agenda that undermines them.

Rep. TJ Cox, D-Fresno, represents parts of Fresno, Tulare and Kern counties and all of Kings County. He is a small business owner.