President Trump’s Budget Slashes Spending, Boosts Defense

U.S.

The White House unveiled its budget for fiscal year 2020 this week and it looks to be the most serious effort made to curtail spending on the nation’s non-defense-related programs to date.

“In the last two years, President Trump and this Administration have prioritized reining in reckless Washington spending,” said Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russ Vought from the White House on Monday in unveiling the plan.

“Our national debt nearly doubled under the previous Administration and now stands at more than $22 trillion. This Budget shows that we can return to fiscal sanity without halting our economic resurgence while continuing to invest in critical priorities,” he added.

The budget cuts $845 billion from Medicare over ten years, which amounts to about a 10% cut to the program. It cuts $1.5 trillion from Medicaid, adding $1.2 trillion instead to a “Market Based Health Care Grant,” a block grant to states. It’s unclear whether that grant will be part of Medicaid or a its own, standalone program.

The budget also cuts $25 billion from Social Security over the same time period.

The blueprint can be seen as a tradeoff between safety net spending and spending on defense as the budget adds $34 billion to defense spending next year alone, bringing the total defense budget to $750 billion.

Notably, the President is also calling for $8.6 billion for construction of a border wall along the southern border. The federal government shut down for a record 35 days in December and January over an impasse over funding for a border wall.

Democrats on Capitol Hill condemned the proposal.

“Yet again, the President has proposed shortsighted cuts that would slash investments in infrastructure, medical research, and American families, cuts that have been rejected by Congress two fiscal years in a row,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee said.

It is “dead on arrival and divorced from reality,” he added.

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA), a member of the House Budget Committee, in a statement emailed to ITN, said the budget highlights the President’s priorities: using cuts from programs middle class Americans rely on to provide tax cuts to the nation’s wealthiest.

The President’s budget “would gut countless programs that protect public health, invest in our roads and bridges, and help American workers support their families…Make no mistake: President Trump’s 2020 budget tells working people to foot the bill for stock buybacks and CEO bonuses,” Boyle’s statement read.

Democrats have indicated they will not be voting on a budget this year to avoid intraparty battling. “We’re still proceeding as if we’re going to do one, but we’re also considering other options because we don’t know if we can get 218 votes for anything,” Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), Chairman of the House Budget Committee, said this week.

A federal budget has to be approved by both houses of Congress and signed by the President in order to keep the government open past the end of the fiscal year. The U.S. Government’s fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

Photo by The White House

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