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Trump budget aid lose big.


President Donald
Trump will ask the U.S. Congress for dramatic cuts to many federal
programs as he seeks to bulk up defense spending, start building a wall
on the border with Mexico and spend more money deporting illegal
immigrants.

In a federal
budget proposal with many losers, the Environmental Protection Agency
and State Department stand out as targets for the biggest spending
reductions. Funding would disappear altogether for 19 independent bodies
that count on federal money for public broadcasting, the arts and
regional issues from Alaska to Appalachia.

Trump’s
budget outline is a bare-bones plan covering just “discretionary”
spending for the 2018 fiscal year starting on Oct. 1. It is the first
volley in what is expected to be an intense battle over spending in
coming months in Congress, which holds the federal purse strings and
seldom approves presidents’ budget plans.

Congress,
controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans, may reject some or many of
his proposed cuts. Some of the proposed changes, which Democrats will
broadly oppose, have been targeted for decades by conservative
Republicans.

Moderate
Republicans have already expressed unease with potential cuts to
popular domestic programs such as home-heating subsidies, clean-water
projects and job training.
Trump is
willing to discuss priorities, said White House budget director Mick
Mulvaney, a former South Carolina congressman who made a name for
himself as a spending hawk before Trump plucked him for his Cabinet.

“The
president wants to spend more money on defense, more money securing the
border, more money enforcing the laws, and more money on school choice,
without adding to the deficit,” Mulvaney told a small group of
reporters during a preview on Wednesday.
“If they have a different way to accomplish that, we are more than interested in talking to them,” Mulvaney said.

Trump
wants to spend $54 billion more on defense, put a down payment on his
border wall, and breathe life into a few other campaign promises. His
initial budget outline does not incorporate his promise to pour $1
trillion into roads, bridges, airports and other infrastructure
projects. The White House has said the infrastructure plan is still to
come.

The defense increases are matched by cuts to
other programs so as to not increase the $488 billion federal deficit.
Mulvaney acknowledged the proposal would likely result in significant
cuts to the federal workforce.
“You can’t drain the swamp and leave all the people in it,” Mulvaney said.

‘AMERICA FIRST’

White House officials looked
at Trump’s campaign speeches and “America First” pledges as they
crunched the numbers, Mulvaney said.

“We
turned those policies into numbers,” he said, explaining how the
document mirrored pledges to spend more on the U.S. nuclear weapons
arsenal, veterans’ health care, the FBI, and Justice Department efforts
to fight drug dealers and violent crime.

The
Department of Homeland Security would get a 6.8 percent increase, with
more money for extra staff needed to catch, detain and deport illegal
immigrants.

Trump wants Congress
to shell out $1.5 billion for the border wall with Mexico in the current
fiscal year – enough for pilot projects to determine the best way to
build it – and a further $2.6 billion in fiscal 2018, Mulvaney said.

The
estimate of the full cost of the wall will be included in the full
budget, expected in mid-May, which will project spending and revenues
over 10 years.

Trump has vowed
Mexico will pay for the border wall, which the Mexican government has
flatly said it will not do. The White House has said recently that
funding would be kick-started in the United States.

The
voluminous budget document will include economic forecasts and Trump’s
views on “mandatory entitlements” – big-ticket programs like Social
Security and Medicare, which Trump vowed to protect on the campaign
trail.

BIGGEST LOSERS

Trump asked Congress to slash
the EPA by $2.6 billion or more than 31 percent, and the State
Department by more than 28 percent or $10.9 billion.

Mulvaney
said the “core functions” of those agencies would be preserved. Hit
hard would be foreign aid, grants to multilateral development agencies
like the World Bank and climate change programs at the United Nations.

Trump
wants to get rid of more than 50 EPA programs, end funding for former
Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature Clean Power Plan aimed at
reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and cut renewable energy research
programs at the Energy Department.
Regional programs to clean up the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay would be sent to the chopping block.
Community
development grants at the Housing Department – around since 1974 – were
cut in Trump’s budget, along with more than 20 Education Department
programs, including some funding program for before- and after- school
programs.

Anti-poverty grants and a
program that helps poor people pay their energy bills would be slashed,
as well as a Labor Department program that helps low-income seniors
find work.

Trump’s rural base did
not escape cuts. The White House proposed a 21 percent reduction to the
Agriculture Department, cutting loans and grants for wastewater,
reducing staff in county offices and ending a popular program that helps
U.S. farmers donate crops for overseas food aid.

 

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