Chair, Progress For All
President Donald Trump’s mocking of people with disabilities during the presidential campaign is now reflected in his 2018 budget that threatens to set back disability rights fifty years. His proposal strips away protections and slashes $64 billion over the next decade from the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI).
During the campaign, Mr. Trump claimed he was the only Republican candidate who would protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Let’s be clear, cuts to SSDI are cuts to Social Security.
At a recent press conference, Trump’s Budget Director Mick Mulvaney was asked, “Will any of those individuals who presently receive SSDI receive less as a result of the budget?” Mulvaney’s response, “I hope so.” This, while the budget will reward the wealthiest individuals and corporations with billions of dollars in tax credits and subsidies?!
SSDI is insurance that workers earn with every paycheck, providing critical financial support for disabled workers and their families. As of December 2016, 10.61 million people relied on SSDI – 4.5 million men, 4.3 million women, 1.67 million dependent children, and 134,480 spouses of disabled workers.
The average SSDI benefit for a disabled worker is just $1,171 a month – about $14,000 a year. And for eight out of ten beneficiaries, SSDI is their only source of income. In fact, our meager disability payments place us 30th out of the 34 wealthy countries in the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).
As a result of these cuts, persons with disabilities could lose their healthcare, income for food assistance, housing, independent assisted living, and access to programs to help them with their special disabilities. Trump’s proposal also reduces SSDI benefits for families that include multiple people with disabilities, thereby threatening to push more people with disabilities and their families deeper into poverty. This new family penalty would affect more than 1 million households receiving SSDI, including roughly 190,000 households with children.
The Trump budget also calls for a reduction in federal special education spending and cuts to the U.S. Department of Labor’s’ Office of Disability Employment Policy Office, state developmental disability councils, autism programs, and medical research.
As a long-time activist and law professor, I have fought to expand and strengthen Social Security. For years I have worked with senior and disability groups to support the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Restoration Act of 2015, which would have helped many SSI recipients from having to struggle with homelessness, hunger and malnutrition. My opponent, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, refused to support this bill.
In his budget, President Trump and the GOP leadership are proposing hundreds of billions of dollars in tax relief for the wealthiest CEOs and largest corporations in the country, the same people and corporations benefiting from trillions of dollars in federal contracts, subsidies, and tax credits, as well as low interest loans from the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, they seek to squeeze tens of billions of dollars from the SSDI program. Where is their humanity? We must hold them accountable for turning their backs on ordinary American citizens and the most vulnerable people in our society.
Please spread the word far and wide. The stakes are too high to remain on the sidelines.