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Critics Slam Trump Administration’s Budget Proposal for Being 'Cruel' Toward the Poor

“Comic-book-villain bad,” “an egregious attack on poor people,” “cruel”: These are just a few of the criticisms of US President Donald Trump’s budget lodged by both lawmakers and advocates who work to help the world’s poorest residents after it was unveiled on Tuesday.

The proposed $4.1 trillion federal budget included steep cuts to programs like education, food aid, and healthcare for those who need it while boosting spending on military and border security.

It also proposes eliminating entirely 18 agencies including the Corporation for National and Community Service, the National Endowment for the Humanities and National Endowment of the Arts, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Even the program that provides Meals on Wheels to elderly residents in their homes, the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) program, is on the chopping block.

Read More: Trump Administration's Proposed Budget Slashes Foreign Aid, Boosts National Security

Lucy Melcher, associate director for advocacy with the anti-hunger group No Kid Hungry, told ABC News that the proposed cuts are “devastating” to a program that research shows lifts people out of poverty. More than 44 million Americans participated in the food stamp program in 2016.

“You are instead pulling the rug out from people and leaving them with no safety net to provide for their most basic needs,” Melcher said.

The budget is equally harsh to programs for the poor at home and abroad. Trump proposed cutting foreign assistance by one-third where it is currently funded, and redirecting the remaining money toward national security programs instead of education, nutrition, and health programs.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the budget was “comic-book-villain bad,” and “the kind of budget you might expect from someone who is openly rooting for a government shutdown.”

Read More: America’s Poor Would Be Hit Hardest by Trump’s 2018 Budget

Senate Armed Services Committee member Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called the budget “stunning in its cruelty.” Republican Sen. John McCain, the Armed Services Committee Chairman said the proposal was “dead on arrival in Congress.”

Andrea  Koppel, a vice president at Mercy Corps, a humanitarian group, pointed out that the world currently faces acute humanitarian crises including 65 million displaced people and 20 million teetering on the brink of starvation.

“Without US foreign assistance, grievances and weak governance will persist, enabling violent extremists and other armed groups to thrive,” she said. “Now would be the absolute worst time to cut foreign aid.”

Health organizations that supply vaccines, medicine, and support to people all over the world also expressed disappointment in Trump’s proposed 26% decrease in global health funding.

Read More: 9 Former US Ambassadors Just Wrote a Letter to Congress Asking Them Not Cut UN Funding

The Global Health Council said the budget is tantamount to “declaring war on global health and development.” The cuts would undermine the fights against HIV/AIDS, malaria, and polio, weaken child and maternal health programs, and leave the world more vulnerable to outbreaks of diseases like Zika and Ebola.

“These cuts the administration has proposed for agencies and programs only roll back progress we've made on making Americans safer from epidemics and instability or more prosperous from innovation and strong economies. We can either invest in what works today or pay many times over for the consequences tomorrow,” Loyce Pace, the president and executive director, said in a statement.

The budget did maintain funding for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, but Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of the organization, warned the administration that “the cuts proposed to the US’s global health programs as well as to the larger foreign assistance budget will leave many of the most vulnerable increasingly susceptible to health threats.”

Read More: How Trump's Global Gag Rule Is Hurting African Women the Most

“These programs are essential to the well-being of millions of people around the world and complement the impact of Gavi-supported vaccine initiatives. As the budget moves to Congress, we urge the House and the Senate to continue their long history of standing up and protecting global health and foreign assistance programs,” he said.

The president of American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, called Trump’s proposal “cruel,” noting that the $800 billion cut from Medicaid would affect 70 million low-income people. She said the budget would make Americans sicker and poorer.

The budget proposal will now go to Congress, which will ultimately set the budget for 2018.