Just ahead of the State of the Union speech President Donald Trump gives Tuesday, Post-Gazette reporters have gathered information on the state of Western Pennsylvania and what people involved in politics, government, business, religious life, health care and environmental issues see in the months ahead.
Advocates for the poor fear the president and congressional Republicans could enact major cuts to safety-net programs such as Medicaid, which provides health insurance for low-income and disabled people, or the food stamp program.
They also fear cuts to funds for affordable housing, money for heating assistance, legal help for the poor, or Supplemental Security Income, a program for people with disabilities.
“We are generally concerned that another year will go by without any real policies to address poverty and hunger,” said Emily Cleath, a spokeswoman for Pittsburgh anti-hunger advocacy group Just Harvest. “These should include passing HR 1276 so that SNAP [food stamps] benefit amounts better reflect the actual cost of a healthy diet, raising the federal minimum wage, mandating paid Family and Medical Leave, addressing the critical shortage of affordable housing, and funding universal high-quality childcare and preK. Imagine how great a nation we would be if we could provide those things. Instead, this administration and Republican leaders in Congress seem more interested in perpetuating the War on the Poor.”