The U.S. now spends more on its debt than programs for kids: report | Thursday Morning Coffee

September 12, 2019 7:08 am

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

If the way a government spends its money is a statement of its priorities — and it surely is — then this is not a very good time to be a child in Donald Trump’s America.

That’s because, for the first time ever, the United States government now spends more money servicing its debt than it does on the next generation of Americans.

That’s according to a new report by the advocacy group First Focus on Children, which tracks government spending on children.

According to the report, the share of federal spending on children has dropped by nearly 10 percent since 2015, hitting an historic low of just 7.2 percent in fiscal 2019. Adjusted for inflation, the federal government cut spending on children by 1 percent last year.

The Trump administration has proposed further reducing that share to just 6.4 percent of federal spending, the analysis found. It gets there, in part, by eliminating more than 40 pro-kid and pro-family programs, the analysis found.

“Treating our children as an afterthought has resulted in one of the highest child poverty rates in the developed world,” the group’s president, Bruce Lesley, said in a statement.

“Infant mortality outstrips nearly every one of our peer nations and the figures keep rising,” he continued. “More than 11 million children live in homes that face food insecurity. And just today [Wednesday], the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the number of kids without health insurance climbed to 5.5 percent, reversing two decades of progress. Neglecting our children this way is not only shameful, it’s economically foolish.”

President Donald Trump (Capital-Star file)

During a Washington D.C. event Wednesday promoting the report’s release one expert put the results in a broader, national context.

“America is in the midst of two dramatic demographic shifts: rising diversity, with the highest levels of diversity among our youngest, and rapid aging as the baby boomers head into retirement,” University of Southern California sociology professor Manuel Pastor said during a keynote address.

“Studies show that America’s seniors are less likely to support spending on youth when they are from different racial groups,” he continued. “Our leaders must take immediate steps to bridge this racial generation gap and ensure that all youth, including low-income children of color and English language learners, can access the education and supports they need to succeed. America’s economic security and prosperity depends on the ability of our young people to participate as workers, leaders and innovators.”

As the advocacy group notes, the report’s release comes amid some other disturbing trends:

  • “The U.S. Census Bureau reported today that the number of uninsured children rose to 4.3 million in 2018, a 10 percent increase over the previous year.
  • “Census figures also showed that more than 16 million U.S. children remain in poverty, a result of anti-poverty measures that are effective, but are severely underfunded and don’t always reach those at the bottom. First Focus on Children leads the U.S. Child Poverty Action Group, which renewed calls for national targets to cut child poverty in half within a decade.
  • “The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Sept. 4 that 15 percent of U.S. children lived in food-insecure households in 2018. Roughly 540,000 children missed meals or went hungry because of a lack of food. The Trump Administration is currently pursuing policies to restrict access to food aid for low-income children.”
WikiMedia Commons

Our Stuff.
Elizabeth Hardison 
leads our coverage with a story you’re not going to read anywhere else: She has the details on a nonprofit, run by state Sen. Mike Regan, R-York, that connects school districts with the resources they need to make safety improvements for students.

Hardison has the details on how 10 Pa. municipalities plan to reduce gun violence with a share of state grant money.

Pa’s protections for public-sector unions are 60 years old. Activists are pushing for an updateStephen Caruso reports.

From our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune, a Philadelphia City Councilmember wants the city’s acting police commissioner out over a t-shirt mocking the Rodney King beating.

On our Commentary Page, Rich Askey of PSEA talks about an important arts competition celebrating the history of Pa labor. And Joe Minott of the Clean Air Council says it’s time for the state to shut down Mariner East.

The Philadelphia Skyline from the ‘Rocky Steps’ at the Philly Art Museum. Photo by Steve Lange, courtesy of Flickr Commons.

The Inquirer
 explains how mayoral ambitions could overshadow this fall’s session of Philadelphia City Council.
The Allentown mayor’s pick to lead the city’s police department is popular among community leaders, The Morning Call reports.
Advocates are looking for more parking – and less housing – at a new Giant Eagle development in Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh City Paper reports.
The Pa. Supreme Court will decide whether 50 years in prison is a de facto life sentenceWHYY-FM reports.
There are no additional buyout plans in the works for Pa. state government employees, PennLive reports.

Here’s your #Erie Instagram of the Day:

State Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, has been sentenced for DUI in Dauphin County, WITF-FM reports. It’s his second conviction, the station reports.
The Pa. Health Department is probing lung illnesses related to vaping, the PA Post reports. Seventeen people across the state are believed to have lung illnesses tied to vaping, the online news org reports.
Veep Mike Pence paid tribute to 9/11 victims during an appearance in Somerset County on Wednesday.
So this’ll burst your balloon: Helium balloons are terrible for the reports.
A $325K donation to a pro-Trump super PAC is ‘confounding’ experts, Talking Points Memo reports.

What Goes On.
The House Democratic Policy Committee roadtrips it to lovely Pottstown, Pa., for a 10 a.m. public hearing at the Steel River Playhouse on the economic impact of the arts.

What Goes On (Nakely Political Edition).
5:30 p.m.: 
Reception for Rep. Mary Isaacson
6 p.m.: 
Reception for House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler
6 p.m.: 
Reception for House Approps Chairman Stan Saylor
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’ll be out a truly offensive $17,500 today. Spoiler alert: Saylor has a $10k maximum ask at his event at the Country Club of York.  

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out to a couple of longtime Friends O’the Blog this morning: Our former PennLive colleague, Shannon Wass, and Anne Wakabayashi, of Emerge PA., both of whom celebrate today. Congrats and enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s one from The Postal Service we stumbled across last night. From the 10th anniversary edition of ‘Give Up,’ here’s ‘Clark Gable.’

Thursday’s Gratuitous Soccer Link.
The rivalry between Mexico and the USMNT will remain one-sided for the foreseeable future. The Guardian explains why.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.