Column: Trump budget cuts target his supporters - The Buffalo News

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Column: Trump budget cuts target his supporters

Donald Trump’s supporters like to rationalize his chaotic first weeks by chortling that he is doing exactly what he said he’d do.

There’s just one problem: He never said he’d do it to them.

As his plan to protect entitlements while boosting military spending and cutting domestic programs by the same amount takes shape, one unlikely demographic group will bear the brunt of the program cuts: white, working class Americans who lack a college degree.

That, of course, is the group that gave the wealthy developer a big share of its support and put key Midwestern states in his electoral column.

In fact, even though he lost Erie County, Trump brought more people to the polls and gained a much bigger share of the vote than Mitt Romney did in 2012. He even won Cheektowaga, Evans, Hamburg and the City of Tonawanda – all of which had voted Democratic four years earlier.

Now Trump appears ready to bite the working class hands that filled in the bubbles next to his name.

With Social Security, Medicare and the military deemed sacrosanct, cuts will have to come from "safety net" programs like food stamps or those assisting with housing and child care.

The stereotype has long been that such programs disproportionately benefit minorities, thus providing an easy applause line when Trump promised to "make America great again" in ways some supporters thought they understood only too well.

Now, it turns out, they are the target as he apparently thinks white working class people without a college degree are what’s holding America back.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities looked at who is helped by safety net programs and came to a conclusion that likely will surprise many Trump voters: "Among working-age adults without a college degree, 6.2 million whites are lifted above the poverty line by the safety net — more than any other racial or ethnic group."

That compares to just 2.8 million blacks and 2.4 million Hispanics, the center found, even though those groups have higher poverty rates.

"In addition," the analysis found, "the percentage of people who would otherwise be poor that safety net programs lift out of poverty is greater for white working-age adults without a college degree than for other adults without a college degree."

Now compare that to the demographics of who put Trump in office. According to stats guru Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com, it was those same working class voters without a college degree. After analyzing the vote by both education and income, Silver concluded: "It appears as though educational levels are the critical factor in predicting shifts in the vote (from Democrat to Republican) between 2012 and 2016."

Trump played on the desperation of those voters, who were taken in by a habitual liar who then filled his cabinet with millionaires with little or no history of looking out for them.

The results for working-class people in places like Cheektowaga and the City of Tonawanda will not be pretty when the new administration starts cutting from the bottom. And that’s not even counting the people whose health insurance is at risk as Republicans try to kill the Affordable Care Act.

No doubt, when those voters pictured who would bear the brunt of the cuts as Trump vowed to go after "waste" and "fraud," they never thought they’d end up looking in the mirror.

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