Oakland, Macomb leaders rally against Trump budget plan

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Royal Oak — U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, joined state and community leaders Monday to voice objections to President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget, a plan they warn will slash support for local federally funded programs.

Levin, flanked by several dozen elected officials and Oakland and Macomb county groups, described billions of dollars in proposed federal cuts by Trump as “savaging” important social programs for families, including those relied on by the nation’s most vulnerable: children, the disabled, veterans, the unemployed and the elderly.

Levin said he’s calling on constituents to “get emotional” and “rise up” in opposition to the plan he argues would impact thousands of families, depriving them of sorely needed services, eliminate jobs and jeopardize medical research projects and the environment.

“It will be devastating,” said Levin, during a rally at Leo Mahany/Harold Meininger Senior Community Center in Royal Oak. “The president talks about putting America first but this will put many Americans last.”

Levin and others on Monday ticked off how Trump budget proposals would:

■Cut the SNAP food assistance program by $191 billion over 10 years — 101,000 Macomb County residents and 91,000 people in Oakland County currently rely on the program.

■Trim $72 billion in benefits from the Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Insurance programs. In Levin’s district, which includes parts of Oakland and Macomb counties, 44,000 people currently receive benefits.

■Reduce the Medicaid program by $610 billion over 10 years. Currently, 2.3 million people in Michigan, including 280,000 across Oakland and Macomb counties, rely on Medicaid for health coverage.

■Eliminate the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which funds 764 projects in Michigan designed to clean up areas, fight invasive species and restore habitats.

■Eliminate Community Development Block Grants. Last year, Oakland County received $3.6 million and other communities used the funds help low- and middle-income residents with home rehab, heating and senior home services.

Macomb County Community College President Jim Jacobs said the budget plan leaves education and job programs for hundreds at risk.

“It will not just impact people without jobs but those who are trying to learn new skills,” said Jacobs. “These kind of cuts are going to make it much harder for communities to deal with the future.”

Andrew Sarpolis, an organizer for the national Sierra Club environmental group, warned of tragic environmental consequences.

“Make no mistake, it will cause people to die,” he said. “Congress must reject this proposal ...It will decimate Great Lakes restoration efforts with devastating water quality and economic fallout for Michigan.”