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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Brownstein: How Trump’s Budget Would Betray His Rust Belt Suporters

At The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein explains how Trump’s full budget would bring new hardships to the very the working families of the Rust Belt who provided his margin of victory in the Electoral College:

In the key Rustbelt states that tipped the 2016 election to President Trump, blue-collar white voters at the core of his constituency represent a majority of those receiving benefits from the federal income-support programs he has targeted for large cutbacks in his budget, according a new analysis conducted for The Atlantic.

Whites without a four-year college degree constitute most of those receiving assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Social Security’s Supplemental Security Income program, and Social Security’s disability program in each of the five Rustbelt states that flipped from Barack Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016: Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. They also represent a majority of the programs’ beneficiaries in other heavily working-class interior states—from Arkansas and Kentucky through Missouri and Montana—that are central to GOP fortunes in upcoming elections.

Although Trump’s budget is designed to minimize hardships on white seniors, who turn  out at the polls in grater percentages than other constituencies, “the reductions still inevitably reach many of the lower-income and less-educated whites that have emerged as the cornerstone of the modern Republican coalition.” Brownstein notes, further,

As William Hoagland, a senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center who formerly worked as a top Senate Republican budget aide, told The New York Times: “The politics of this make no sense to me whatsoever, in the sense that the population that brought them to the dance are the populists out there in the Midwest and South who rely on these programs that he’s talking about reducing.

…”The tilt toward blue-collar whites is, if anything, even more pronounced in the programs Trump’s budget targets than in the health-care law. Consider the SNAP program, formerly known as food stamps. The analysis examined households that have received income from the program over the previous year and separated them according to the education level of the household member with the most schooling.

White households whose most educated member held less than a four-year college degree represented the highest share of all households receiving SNAP benefits in Trump’s key states: 69 percent in Iowa, 57 percent in Ohio, 55 percent in Wisconsin, 52 percent in Michigan, and 50 percent in Pennsylvania. The numbers were comparable in heavily white and blue-collar states like West Virginia (85 percent), Maine (82 percent), Kentucky (74 percent), Montana (68 percent), Indiana (61 percent), Missouri (59 percent), Tennessee (56 percent), and Arkansas (55 percent).

Brownstein also presents other statistics that reveal the extent of Trump’s betrayals of the beneficiaries of the Social Security Disability program, “a lopsided tilt toward whites without a college degree” in key Rust Belt states.

During the next year the effects described by Bronwstein will be increasingly felt in the Rust Belt, as well as the rest of the country. If Democrats have successfully rebranded their party as the real champion of America’s working-class by Fall of 2018, a wave election that will put an end to Republican domination will become a reality.

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