On Sunday, the New York Times told the story of a couple in Kinsman, Ohio who voted for Trump in November but now could lose a federal housing repair program that has sustained their home for years.
Since 2015, Joseph and Tammy Pavlic have lived off of a $9,000 annual salary; they qualified to have the Congress-funded HOME program repair their house’s deteriorating roof along with other heating and cooling units.
According to the Times, in 2016 they voted for Trump, who,as it turns out, will eliminate the HOME program. Trump’s budget proposal seeks to dramatically slash funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development which will slash rental assistance programs like the HOME program, home energy efficiency programs, and other local partnerships in poor areas.
The budget for the fiscal year beginning in October would cut $6.2 billion — about 13 percent — from HUD, eliminating the Community Development Block Grant program, which funds local initiatives like Meals on Wheels and anti-poverty efforts; and the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity and Choice Neighborhoods programs, which aim to replace distressed public housing with mixed-income development.
With the savings, Trump will boost military spending as well as pay for the wall along the Mexican border. But according to Joseph Pavlic, despite these cuts to programs he and his low-income family have benefited from, Trump’s priorities are acceptable.
Tammy Pavlic made $9,000 in 2015. Now a program that helped her repair her home could get cut by President Trump. https://t.co/RYtraXwkp5
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) April 3, 2017
“Keeping the country safe compared to keeping my bathroom safe isn’t even a comparison,” Pavlic told the Times. “We have people who are coming into this country who are trying to hurt us, and I think that we need to be protected.”
According to Pavlic, whether or not he and his family have a safe, functioning home doesn’t matter so long as foreign people he perceives as dangerous are kept out of the country. But still, Pavlic conceded to the Times that while he is glad that Trump “is our president,” he does believe that if Trump “could see this from a personal point of view that he would probably maybe change his mind about cutting this program.”
“Any mom wants their kids to be safe, so any mom wants their home to be safe,” Pavlic said.
The issue, of course, is that being born into a family with millions and, today, being so steeped in economic privilege he shares with all of his cabinet members, Trump can’t see this from a “personal point of view.” He and his billionaire friends and appointees will never share in these problems, and seem to have minimal interest in advancing programs for the millions of low-income Americans that are affected by poverty.
Much of the Republican economic agenda has always relied on more funding for defense and the military and cuts to social program that millions of Americans rely on to survive. This is always justified using logic like Pavlic’s — that “keeping the country safe” is the ultimate issue: not starving children, unemployment due to inaccessible education, not poor people dying as a result of unaffordable healthcare.
So long as they are able to sell this sensationalist narrative that people of color from other countries are threats, they will continue to get Americans like the Pavlics to vote against their best interests.
Featured image via Gage Skidmore