This is a new low for American politics, and yet another example of how Trump is only interested in using his office to benefit his bottom line.
The President’s proposed budget cuts take a huge chunk away from initiatives designed to provide shelter to the poor and vulnerable, and fight against homelessness. That in and of itself is enough to make any reasonable American sick to their stomach. But that’s not all, folks.
Trump spared one program. He left fully intact a certain federal subsidy program that benefits private landlords – a subsidy that pays Trump millions of dollars each year.
The Independent reports that Trump has a 4% stake in Starrett City, the largest subsidized housing company in the United States. That small stake earned Trump at least $5 million between January, 2016 and April 1, 2017 (as revealed in his latest financial disclosure).
The Independent explains the larger issue at hand:
Trump’s business empire intersects with government in countless ways, from taxation to permitting to the issuing of patents, but the housing subsidy is one of the clearest examples of the conflicts experts have predicted. While there is no indication that Trump himself was involved in the decision, it is nonetheless a stark illustration of how his financial interests can directly rise or fall on the policies of his administration.
That subsidy generates steady income for Trump and his siblings, each of whom inherited an interest in the property when their father died. Although it represents a small portion of his overall wealth, it is one of the few examples of money the president derives directly from the federal government he oversees.
Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight (an independent watchdog organization), said the following: “It’s a conflict, and it’s why everyone has pushed Trump to not only step away from his business interests but to divest them.”
The budget calls for a nearly 29 percent cut, or $1.8 billion, to public housing and a 5 percent drop, or nearly $1 billion, in vouchers that allow tenants to use the aid on the housing of their choice, according to Douglas Rice, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In contrast, the program that directs money to Starrett City and other privately owned housing would see a reduction of about half a percent, or $65 million, from its $10.8 billion allocation.
“It certainly raises questions as to why that remained relatively flat while there were other cuts,” Amey said.
The White House declined to comment, and referred all future questions directly to the Trump Organization, which has not responded to requests for comment from The Washington Post.