Prediction: Donald Trump, and his enablers in Congress, will be remembered as the most anti-children cabal in the nation’s history.

Even if we someday elect a cross between W.C. Fields and (pre-“Night Before Christmas”) Ebenezer Scrooge, he won’t be able to compete with Trump’s legacy of debt, damage and death.

His $1.5 trillion tax-cut handout to Wall Street, the multi-generational wealthy and other well-heeled special interest cronies — adamantly supported by Wyoming’s all-Republican congressional delegation mind you — could have earned him the title on it’s own. Today’s kids, their kids and who knows how many generations after that will have to foot the bill.

Employing terror against children as an immigration enforcement tactic — seperating kids from their parents crossing our southern border — really separates him from the pack though. Let’s think that through for a moment. A mother and her 10-year-old daughter, exhausted, terrified and desperate enough to have trekked thousands of dangerous miles, wrenched apart, mom to a detention center, child into a bureaucracy of strangers. This is America?  

And now he’s coming for the most vulnerable kids who are already here. The president has proposed eliminating $7 billion for the Children’s Health Insurance Program funding that Congress has already approved. Such action would add to Republicans’ abysmal failures on children’s health care, including letting the popular program expire last September so they could use it later as a budget bargaining chip.

Congress, with no help from Trump on the issue, managed to cobble together an omnibus budget bill that keeps CHIP alive for at least the next decade.

To their credit, Wyoming’s entire delegation of Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi and Rep. Liz Cheney supported the compromise last fall that extended the life of the 20-year-old program. They voted in favor of the program’s reauthorization, as they promised their constituents they would.

Last week Trump announced his intention to cut $5 billion from the appropriated funds, claiming it wouldn’t hurt because, though appropriated, it hasn’t been spent yet. I’ll just let the illogic of that reasoning speak for itself.

The president also wants to eliminate $2 billion from an emergency fund to help states with high CHIP enrollments. The program covers about 9 million children nationwide whose parents usually earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private health coverage.

It’s insanity for a party that’s earned its reputation for hurting poor people to go after children as well. Yet that’s precisely the direction Trump, as leader of the Republicans, seems to want to take them.

The proposed $7 billion CHIP reduction is coupled with another $8 billion in funding cuts that include Obamacare programs, vehicle technology and railroad benefits. Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, unbelievably called the $15 billion in cuts “a modest first step.” He claimed it will supposedly spark more spending reductions in the future if they can just manage to sell this first batch to the American people.

Wow – Trump and his henchmen in Congress actually think eliminating a token $15 billion from a $1.3 trillion spending bill will make Republicans look like the deficit hawks and diligent saver saviors they’ve claimed to be. How delusional can they get?

They must be counting on Americans to forget the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts for the rich they shoved down our collective throats last year. You have to take care of your folks after all.

The kids are expendable, though, in pursuit of a great cause — continued GOP dominance. Part of the GOP’s mid-term strategy, it appears, is to show that they are the only ones who can fulfill Trump’s popular campaign promise to “drain the swamp” while masquerading as responsible budget-cutters.

Which could work if millions of voters collectively lose their memories of how the unholy trio of Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) passed the most unpopular tax cut in U.S. history.

Now, to appease the House Freedom Caucus and some conservative senators who realize their constituents aren’t swallowing the hypocrisy, Trump is trying to shore up the GOP tent with a few fresh lies.

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That plan of attack gives Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Alabama), a vehement backer of the tax cut plan, the audacity to utter these words about Trump’s CHIP proposal: “If it is frivolous stuff that we can get rid of and save the taxpayer money, then we ought to do it.”

Anyone who thinks health care for poor children is “frivolous” deserves to be tarred and feathered and run out of town, not rewarded by mega-rich campaign donors.

In Wyoming, federal funds pay for about $26 million of the $30 million spent to enroll 3,300 children in the state’s Kid Care CHIP program. Before it was reauthorized Wyoming Department of Health officials warned families that once the $30 million budgeted for the program ran out, the state could no longer afford to administer CHIP.

It’s admirable that Wyoming’s delegation has backed CHIP and worked to ensure that its funding continues. But there will likely be some intense pressure put on all three members by Trump and congressional leaders to get in line with the party’s plans.

Voters should call Barrasso, Enzi and Cheney and thank them for their support and remind them how important it is for everyone to stand up for Wyoming’s poorest children and keep them healthy.

Republican congressional leaders who think their war on children’s health care will benefit them at the polls are remarkably out of touch with voters. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) said he thinks the issue will be a winner for his party because voters will force Democrats to get on board with budget cutting.

“Democrats will now be forced to debate and defend their budget priorities in front of the public,” McCarthy told CNN.

I can’t think of many political positions more assured to self-destruct. Democrats were already anticipating a big blue wave in the midterm elections that could carry them back to power, and now this. Trump has been generally able to skate through most of his blunders unscathed but he forgot a cardinal rule of politics: Don’t mess with our kids.

Kerry Drake

Veteran Wyoming journalist Kerry Drake has covered Wyoming for more than four decades, previously as a reporter and editor for the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle and Casper Star-Tribune. He lives in Cheyenne and...

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  1. My great grandparents and their family came to this country in the 1870’s.
    They were not wrenched apart, because they came in the right way.
    How much money are you contributing to assist these illegals, or is that somebody else’s job?
    Have your children and grandchildren suffered because of these tax cuts?

    1. Ayo Tom Schmit if were only supposed to care about things that affect our own children and grand children why should care about your great grandparents? God forbid people feel empathy for others.

  2. The absolute inability to understand the need for these programs, the impact on society and state and local governments , let alone the absence of compassion, astounds me. People would be surprised at how many of their neighbors and co-workers in Wyoming are dependent on CHIP and Medicaid for their children’s health care. And the we could talk about Medicare..

  3. Well, to be fair, they only care about children that are still in their first apartment (the uterus). They don’t want to feed, educate, cloth them. Just make sure they get born.