Trump budget slashes safety-net programs
- Author: Arturo Norris May 23, 2017,
May 23, 2017, 21:43
Details of the budget circulating in Washington on Monday drew outrage from Democrats and a mix of anxiety and praise from Republicans, illustrating the political minefield that policymakers face as they debate whether to turn the proposals into law.
The FY 2018 $4.1 trillion spending plan that was sent to Capital Hill proposes to eliminate a program that forgives the debts of college-loan borrowers after 10 years if they work in the public sector. Mexico emphatically rejects that notion.
"We can not continue to measure our compassion or success by the amount of money we spend", said Trump's Office of Management & Budget director Mick Mulvaney in a series of briefings for reporters Monday, a day before the official release of the 2018 budget.
The proposed budget, for the fiscal year that begins October 1, was being delivered to Congress Tuesday, setting off an extended debate in which Democrats are already attacking the administration for trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. Trump has promised the military a new influx of jet fighters, battleships and other hardware. It also offers policies the administration says will balance the budget in 10 years and start reducing the deficit in the first year.
The budget documents envision big changes for the Western Area Power Administration, the Bonneville Power Administration and the Southwest Power Administration, all of which would see their transmission assets "divested" for deficit savings of roughly $5.5 billion.
This included federal funding for Habitat for Humanity, subsidized school lunches, and the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the federal response to homelessness across 19 federal agencies. "I also think all the wailing and gnashing of teeth we'll hear on the other side is too much". The Trump budget does get to a surplus - but it takes ten years to reach that point, in 2027. However, that goal depends on growth projections that many private economists view as overly optimistic. Congress is slated to skip town for five weeks in August-right before a September 30 deadline to fund the government and boost the nation's credit card limit.
The administration's first budget is being released while President Donald Trump is out of the country, taking stops in the Middle East and Europe.
The White House has dubbed it, "The New Foundation for American Greatness" with an unwritten subtitle: "The Taxpayer First Budget".
Democrats had an opposite interpretation.
"We expect this budget to be the most aggressive proposal by any modern president to shift large amounts of income and resources from low- and modest-income households struggling to get by, to those at the top", Greenstein told reporters. Dick Durbin of IL.
That includes cuts to pensions for federal workers and higher contributions toward those pension benefits, as well as cuts to refundable tax credits paid to the working poor.
"Isn't it reasonable to at least ask the question, 'Are there people on that program who shouldn't be on there?'" Mulvaney asked.
Trump is calling for six weeks of national paid leave to be made available to new mothers and fathers, including those who adopt.
Because Trump largely leaves alone Social Security or Medicare, he's proposing deep cuts to other so-called mandatory programs such as Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poorest and many disabled Americans.
It protects retirement programmes for the elderly and provides billions of dollars more for the military.
But to achieve balance, Trump is seeking sharp cuts in a variety of programs for the poor from Medicaid to food stamps and disability payments.
The budget also calls for reforming the food stamps program - otherwise known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP - to cut it by $191 billion over 10 years. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) called the cuts to Medicaid "draconian", noting how hard his constituents would be hit.
The White House says it would be implemented by cutting back eligibility and imposing additional work requirements.
The White House also proposed radically slashing farm supports by $38 billion over 10 years, including new limits on premiums for crop insurance and caps for commodity payments.
On taxes, Trump promises an overhaul that would cut tax rates but rely on economic growth and erasing tax breaks to avoid adding to the deficit. It would create three tax brackets - 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent - instead of the current seven, but specific details were left to further negotiations with Congress. Those cuts rang alarm bells for many Republicans, who were particularly upset about proposals to eliminate community development block grants, slash medical research and eviscerate foreign aid.