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  February 14, 2018

Trump's Budget Declares War on Forgotten America

Across the country, legislators and advocates say President Trump's budget and infrastructure plans would siphon resources and wealth off the needy to benefit the wealthy
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JAISAL NOOR: I'm Jaisal Noor for The Real News Network in Baltimore, Maryland, where lawmakers and advocates are rallying against Donald Trump's infrastructure and budget.

MARY PAT CLARKE: We have now something that some of us thought maybe Trump was finally doing something that made sense for people. But as he unveiled it and unrolled it, we learned it was just more of the same following after that tax cut for the wealthy of this nation. And it requires not more money for infrastructure. We actually lose public money through this.

JAISAL NOOR: They say these proposals amount to an attack on working people on the poor, as well as the environment by the wealthiest sectors of our society.

BRANDON SCOTT: It's very clear that there are two Americas. There is the America everyone knows and there is the forgotten America. Baltimore is part of the forgotten America. This president, President Trump, has waged war on the forgotten America. Not just America's cities, but out low-income rural areas as well.

CD WITHERSPOON: You know, I come from Sandtown and there 67% of the people who live in my neighborhood are unemployed. 87% of the peak youth in Baltimore City public schools qualify for free lunch. 25% of families live below the poverty level.

ZEKE COHEN: We have folks that are struggling to pay their water bills. We have folks that are struggling to pay their BG&E or pay for rent. Where I used to teach in Sandtown, we have folks that are still experiencing lead paint poisoning. We know that any budget that does not provide some relief for working poor people is completely unacceptable.

JAISAL NOOR: And locally and at an national level, do you think that policies embraced by Democrats have increased inequality and help create the conditions where someone like Donald Trump could be elected?

ZEKE COHEN: Som I would say this. Democrats need to stand up for working people We need to be clear and consistent when it comes to things like a $15.00 minimum wage or a living wage, we need to say yes. That's what I believe is true locally and that's what I believe is true nationally.

CD WITHERSPOON: With different companies coming in, saying they wanted to buy our water utility, I say no you're not buying it. Oh, no, no we're not talking about buying. We're talking about leasing it for 50 years. And, you know, I'm one of the council members that don't believe in giving away city assets, especially our water. I told them point blank that you can say all that you want to say, but we're not going to sell Baltimore City's water department. We're going to keep, that's our asset and we're going to keep it because if we control it, that means we can keep our prices low for our citizens.

JACK YOUNG: So, yes we are challenging Washington. We're challenging Donald Trump to do the right thing. But even as we stand here side-by-side with our council representation, we are challenging ourselves and our city to do the right thing to make water affordable here in the city of Baltimore for every single person, every single child.

JAISAL NOOR: Lawmakers said they will oppose efforts to try to privatize Baltimore's water but Rianna Eckel of Food & Water Watch said she's concerned that Mayor Catherine Pugh might be backing these efforts.

RIANNA ECKEL: Actually, just today I saw an interview with the mayor. She had done the interview with Bloomberg News, talking about Trump's infrastructure plan actually, so it's great timing with our action today. But in that interview she said that cities should be looking for money anywhere they can get it, and that she is interested in public-private partnerships because the burden of upgrading this water infrastructure here in Baltimore City is just too high for even anyone to imagine. It's true, right? She said that the city had 100 water main breaks in a week. 100 water main breaks in a week is certainly no small feat. We have very aging infrastructure but what I think is important to remember is that there's no such thing as free money. We're not going to come in and have a public-private partnership, have a corporation expect to get a lot of money and just see no downsides from that because inevitably whenever a corporation comes in to make a profit off the system, the profit is their bottom line. Not the quality of service.

JAISAL NOOR: For more, go to This is Jaisal Noor.


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