— President Trump put both political parties on notice Monday that he
intends to slash spending on many of the federal government’s most
politically sensitive programs — relating to education, the environment,
science and poverty — to protect the economic security of retirees and
to shift billions more to the armed forces.
proposal to increase military spending by $54 billion and cut
nonmilitary programs by the same amount was unveiled by White House
officials as they prepared the president’s plans for next year’s federal budget. Aides to the president said final decisions about Medicare and Social Security
would not be made until later in the year, when he announces his full
budget. But Sean Spicer, his spokesman, cited Mr. Trump’s campaign
commitments about protecting those programs and vowed that “he’s going
to keep his word to the American people.”
effect, Mr. Trump appears determined to take sides in a generational
struggle between older, sicker Americans who depend on the entitlement
programs, and their younger, poorer counterparts whose livelihoods are
shaped by the domestic programs likely to see steep cuts.
He also set up a battle for control of Republican Party ideology with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan,
who for years has staked his policy-making reputation on the argument
that taming the budget deficit without tax increases would require that
Congress change, and cut, the programs that swallow the bulk of the
government’s spending — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
don’t know how you take $54 billion out without wholesale taking out
entire departments,” said Bill Hoagland, a longtime Republican budget
aide in the Senate and now a senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
“You need to control it in the area of the entitlement programs, which
he’s taken off the table. It is a proposal, I dare say, that will be
dead on arrival even with a Republican Congress.”
to governors at the White House, Mr. Trump said his spending demands
would be at the core of the speech he gives Tuesday night to a joint
session of Congress. “This budget follows through on my promise to keep
Americans safe,” he said, calling it a “public safety and national
security” budget that will send a “message to the world in these
dangerous times of American strength, security and resolve.”
the first part of the speech, Mr. Trump will recount “promises made and
promises kept,” said the aides, who requested anonymity during a
briefing with reporters. The rest of the speech will focus on how he
will help people with their problems and how he intends to protect the
president’s budget proposals — which were short on detail but are said
to exempt not just Medicare and Social Security but also veterans’
benefits and law enforcement efforts — would lead to deep reductions in
federal programs that touch millions of lives. The White House signaled
that it would begin with agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Internal Revenue Service and social safety-net programs.
budget with no entitlement cuts and one that does not balance most
likely has no chance of passing the House, and could be rejected by
Senate Republicans as well. Mr. Trump’s proposals are too far to the
right in terms of domestic cuts and too far to the left in terms of
balance. Their failure could have practical implications for the White
Congress fails to pass a budget blueprint for the fiscal year that
begins in October, Mr. Trump’s promise to drastically rewrite the tax
code could also die, since the president was counting on that budget
resolution to include special parliamentary language that would shield
his tax cuts from a Democratic filibuster. Without it, any tax legislation would have to be bipartisan enough to clear the Senate with 60 votes.
beyond legislative considerations, the fate of Mr. Trump’s proposal
will go a long way toward determining how significantly his brand of
economic populism has changed Republican orthodoxy.
Trump repeatedly said during the campaign that Republican promises to
transform Medicare and slash entitlement spending were the reason the
party lost the White House in 2012, helpfully name-checking Mr. Ryan,
who sat at the bottom of the ticket that year, in his analysis. Social
Security, health care and net interest now comprise nearly 60 percent of
all federal spending, and that figure is expected to soar to 82 percent
over the next 10 years.
Ryan’s budget plans with cuts to Social Security and Medicare are not
that popular with most voters, and what helped elect Donald Trump
was the promise not to cut benefits and programs,” said Douglas
Elmendorf, the recently departed director of the Congressional Budget
Office and current dean of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of
Government. “That is an unresolved tension.”
House officials said the broad outlines of a spending plan represented
the logical culmination of Mr. Trump’s efforts to make good on his
campaign pledges to prune what he considers wasteful government spending
even as he expands what he considers an underfunded military.
will show the president is keeping his promises and doing exactly what
he said he was going to do,” said Mick Mulvaney, the president’s budget
director. “We are taking his words and turning them into policies and
Mr. Trump’s advisers said aid to foreign governments, which makes up a tiny fraction of federal spending, was one such target.
budget for the I.R.S., which was the target of Republican criticism
during Barack Obama’s administration, would be slashed by 14 percent,
according to documents obtained by The New York Times. The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, which provides grants for community banks and local development, would be all but eliminated.
White House blueprint calls for a 24 percent cut to the E.P.A.’s
budget, according to a person who had seen the document but was not
authorized to speak on the record. That would amount to a reduction of
about $2 billion from the agency’s annual budget of about $8.1 billion,
reducing its spending to levels not seen since Ronald Reagan’s
But it is far from clear whether Congress will approve such steep cuts in popular programs.
congressional Republicans have long targeted the E.P.A.’s regulatory
authority, they are also aware that about half the agency’s annual
budget is passed through to popular state-level programs, like
converting abandoned industrial sites into sports stadiums and other
public facilities, which lawmakers of both parties are loath to cut. And
most of the agency’s federal office spending goes toward funding
programs that are required by existing laws. Last year, even as
congressional Republicans railed against the Obama administration’s
E.P.A. regulations, they proposed cutting only $291 million from the
advocates denounced the proposed cuts, saying they would devastate
environmental protection and public health programs while doing little
to increase national security.
assault on human health begins now with President Trump’s plan to slash
the E.P.A.’s resources, which are vital to protecting Americans’
drinking water and air from pollution,” said Scott Faber, vice president
of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group.
But the information to emerge about the budget raises more questions than it answers.
Democrats, of course, will be no friend, either.
will make crystal clear the misplaced priorities of the administration
and the Republican majority,” said Representative Nita M. Lowey of New
York, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, “and
we will fight tooth and nail to protect services and investments that
are critical to hard-working American families and communities across
the budget may be the most striking example in Mr. Trump’s young
presidency of the ways in which he is challenging the orthodoxy of his
own party. Since the start of his insurgent campaign, Mr. Trump has opposed
the Republican Party’s long-held positions on a range of policies,
including free trade, how to deal with Russia and the future of
government entitlement programs.
in Congress had hoped that the influence of the two former Republican
House members in Mr. Trump’s cabinet — Tom Price, head of health and
human services, and Mr. Mulvaney — would have led to new conclusions
about the need to address entitlement programs that are swelling
drastically with baby boomers’ retirement.
Mr. Trump appears intent on extracting the savings he needs for
military spending from the one part of the budget already most squeezed,
domestic discretionary spending.Read More..