September 23, 2017

President Trump on Thursday will unveil a budget plan that calls for a sharp increase in military spending and stark cuts across much of the rest of the government including the elimination of dozens of long-standing federal programs that assist the poor, fund scientific research and aid America’s allies abroad.

Trump’s first budget proposal, which he named “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” would increase defense spending by $54 billion and then offset that by stripping money from more than 18 other agencies. Some would be hit particularly hard, with reductions of more than 20 percent at the Agriculture, Labor and State departments and of more than 30 percent at the Environmental Protection Agency.

It would also propose eliminating future federal support for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Within EPA alone, 50 programs and 3,200 positions would be eliminated.

The cuts could represent the widest swath of reductions in federal programs since the drawdown after World War II, probably leading to a sizable cutback in the federal non-military workforce, something White House officials said was one of their goals.

“You can’t drain the swamp and leave all the people in it,” White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters.

Many of Trump’s budget proposals are likely to run into stiff resistance from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, even from Republicans, whose support is crucial because they must vote to authorize government appropriations. Republicans have objected, for example, to the large cuts in foreign aid and diplomacy that Trump has foreshadowed, and his budget whacks foreign aid programs run by the Education, State and Treasury departments, among others.

“The administration’s budget isn’t going to be the budget,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). “We do the budget here. The administration makes recommendations, but Congress does budgets.”

Trump’s budget would not take effect until the new fiscal year on Oct. 1, but the president must still reach a separate agreement with Congress by the end of April, when a temporary funding bill expires. If they can’t reach an agreement, and if Trump’s new budget plan widens fault lines, then the chances would increase for a partial government shutdown starting on April 29.

The president and Congress must also raise the debt ceiling, which has become a politically fraught ritual. Although the ceiling was extended until March 15, budget experts say the government should be able to continue borrowing money by suspending or stretching out payments through August or September.

 

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