Into the Woods

Seven Ways the Trump Administration Could Destroy Social Welfare in Arizona

Illustration by Vlad Alvarez

Illustration by Vlad Alvarez

Every day seems to bring another headline about a new nominee from President-elect Donald Trump, and with it, a renewed sense of horror among his critics — a climate-change denier at the Environmental Protection Agency; a retired neurosurgeon with no experience in government or management at Housing and Urban Development; the leader of a fast-food chain who doesn’t believe in minimum wage or workers’ rights at the Department of Labor; the former editor of the alt-right publication Breitbart as chief strategist.

The list goes on.

As Trump has been announcing his cabinet picks, New Times has been interviewing more than two dozen local political leaders and experts from a variety of fields to see what impact they believe the Trump administration will have on social welfare in Arizona.

Health care, education programs, affordable housing, behavioral health and substance abuse programs, services for people with disabilities, protection for the environment — all are funded heavily by federal dollars in a state the U.S. Census Bureau says has an above-average poverty rate, and a governor and legislature not much interested in helping children and those in need.

“If we do what we’ve historically done, we’ll … essentially remove the safety-net programs [for] our vulnerable citizens,” says Eric Meyer, outgoing minority whip for the Arizona House of Representatives.

The wealthiest among us will get tax cuts, if the pattern set by Governor Doug Ducey and the Republican leaders in the Arizona legislature continues.

“They’ve voted over and over again to cut funding for education and other services,” Meyer says, “and in the same stroke of a pen, give tax cuts to corporations or the wealthy.”

Under Trump, there will be social welfare crises throughout the country, but they’re going to be worse in Arizona, says U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), because if the federal government slashes funding, our leaders won’t pick up the slack like leaders in other states might.

“We have a very soulless state government, and they’re just itching to kick people off Medicaid and get rid of the Affordable Care Act. We are definitely going to feel it more than other states are,” he says.

Arizona’s political leadership has long championed a hard-right, fiscally conservative agenda, says local political consultant Bob Grossfeld. In the past, “the political support hasn’t been there or there’s been enough of an opposition to stop them. That’s all going to disappear now; that’s what’s going to make this different,” he says. (Continue reading at the Phoenix New Times.)

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