MADISON — President Donald Trump's proposed cuts to public assistance programs would disproportionately hurt children from low-income families, including minorities and those living in Wisconsin's rural areas, the director of an advocacy group said Wednesday.
Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, said Wednesday that more children in low-income families will become sick, go hungry and struggle in school if Trump's budget plan unveiled earlier this week passes.
Over the next decade, the plan would cut the Children's Health Insurance Program and Medicaid by $616 billion and a food stamp program that serves 44 million people in the country by $191 billion.
"As bad as this is, it will get worse in time," Taylor said on a call with other advocates organized by the Children's Leadership Council. "The effects will be cumulative, hitting vulnerable children over and over again."
About 500,000 Wisconsin children, 40 percent of the total, get health insurance through Medicaid or CHIP, and more than 300,000 receive assistance from food stamps, he said.
Taylor and other speakers said the cuts would create deep holes in state budgets, which rely on federal funds for many public programs.
Shanequa Levin, the New York director of the advocacy group Every Child Matters, said federal housing and nutrition programs allowed her to escape poverty, get an education and become an advocate for other poor children.
"These cuts won't heal," she said of the budget proposal. "These programs allowed me to become someone other than what the stereotypes predicted."
While Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a Republican from Janesville, issued a statement praising Trump's proposal for ending an era of "bloated budgets," some Republicans in Washington have joined advocates in questioning whether the cuts are too drastic. Of the 10 states with the highest food stamp participation, seven are Republican-leaning and helped elect Trump.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a high-ranking Republican, went so far as to call the proposal "basically dead on arrival."