Trump's budget is a 'draconian' mess. We need to scrap it and start over

  • Trump's budget has been called a "Reverse Robin Hood."
  • What upsets me most is the gutting of SNAP, also known as Food Stamps.
  • Here's why the Trump budget hits too close to home.
Donald Trump
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Donald Trump

Call me a snowflake, but I am quite sensitive to the harm that President Trump's budget will do to the poorest and sickest among us.

The Washington Post's, Dana Milbank, calls the plan "cruel," as it targets $3.6 trillion in savings, largely from government assistance programs for those in need.

The reason I am especially sensitive to this sort of draconian action, which some have called a "Reverse Robin Hood" budget is that it does, indeed, rob from the poor to give massive tax cuts to the rich.

And what upsets me most is the gutting of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as Food Stamps.

When I was around 15 years old, my father lost his business, in which he had invested every cent my family had. When the business failed, he was forced to declare both professional and personal bankruptcy. The money we intended to use to buy a house after we had moved from Buffalo, New York to Northridge, California was lost.

My parents never owned a house after that and we lived in a series of apartments thereafter.

Immediately after my dad lost the business, and bankruptcy ensued, my father began collecting unemployment and, given my mother's meager earnings as a Catholic schoolteacher, was also forced to apply for food stamps.

As a teacher, my mom didn't work during the summer months and, in the mid-1970s, as a result of choosing a job in a parochial school, the pay was considerably less than what her public school peers earned. As I recall, she earned about $290 per month … when school was in session.

Coupled with my dad's jobless benefits, food stamps filled the void until my father found some sort gainful employment again.

It was a humiliating experience for my parents, and an uncertain time for my siblings and me.

"Immediately after my dad lost the business, and bankruptcy ensued, my father began collecting unemployment and, given my mother's meager earnings as a Catholic schoolteacher, was also forced to apply for food stamps."

However, I recall that the fact that we could buy groceries without having to borrow funds from relatives or further rely on the kindness of strangers, was comforting.

We had some days in which money for meals was scarce. Nothing is more unsettling than not knowing where you're next meal is coming from, even if it's for a few hours, a day, or a single week.

As embarrassing as it seemed to us that we were, in effect "on welfare," having decent, normal meals was a blessing.

And, my mom and dad had paid into the system for their entire working lives, so this was, in many ways, less of a handout than a helping hand.

There is a disturbing notion these days that people who rely on government assistance, at trying times in their lives, are "takers" rather than "makers."

My dad was a hardworking man, as are many of today's working poor. After every cutback, every layoff, or every time he was let go, he dutifully signed up for unemployment insurance while he sought another job.

Sometimes, he sold cars between gigs. But he never once found a secure job that lasted for more than a few years.

Without that interim assistance from the government, who knows how much farther we might have slipped through the cracks.

And we were never nearly as poor as the people who are facing deep cuts to their social safety nets today. The majority of the working poor can barely afford food and/or healthcare, even if they maintain some sort of employment.

Further, the stories of rampant abuse in programs like Medicaid and Food Stamps are entirely overblown.

Numerous studies have found that these programs are lifelines to the poor, the disabled and the elderly. They are barely getting buy when working AND receiving assistance.

The president's budget proposes nearly $1 trillion in Medicaid cuts and substantial cuts to Food Stamps.

However, it proudly boasts huge cuts to both corporate and individual tax rates, cuts from which the President, himself, will benefit greatly!

The U.S., contrary to the nonsense spewed by the political pundits, is NOT among the most highly taxed nations in the world, not even close.

Let's scrap this budget and rebuild the nation from the bottom up, not the top down.

A society is defined by how it treats the weakest among us. We will fail that test if this budget passes Congress.

Commentary by Ron Insana, a CNBC and MSNBC contributor and the author of four books on Wall Street. Follow him on Twitter @rinsana.

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