Trump's Budget Director: Health Care Bill Would Curtail Health Care Costs

The budget, Trump's first as president, combines his spending plan for the upcoming 2018 fiscal year with a promise to balance government books after a decade, relying on aggressive cuts, a surge in economic growth - and a $2 trillion-plus accounting gimmick.

But in a press briefing Tuesday, White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said that the proposed budget doesn't touch Social Security retirement or Medicare.

And how does White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney characterize the cuts to food stamps and Medicaid?

He defended the budget against charges it drastically cuts funding for important safety net programs like Medicaid, as well as tightening eligibility for disability insurance, a move set to save more than $70 billion over 10 years.

Mr. Mulvaney replied in a budget committee hearing that former President Barack Obama had assumed growth of more than 4 percent in his first budget and never got things to balance.

Republicans who control Congress - and the federal purse strings - will decide whether to make politically sensitive cuts, and the proposal is unlikely to be approved in its current form.

Farm subsidies are on Trump's chopping block, as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (nearly 12 percent of South Dakotans use SNAP); after-school programs and funding for Advanced Placement and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) courses.

The budget would slash programs for rural and small-town America, pillars of Trump's political strength last November.

"Regarding the double-counting", Mulvaney said, "here's one of the things I think that a lot of folks have overlooked - and we did it on objective because it's sort of hard to count this, and you don't want to make too many assumptions - you have to make assumptions about a budget". Trump's new budget assumes sustained growth above 3 percent, sharply higher than the expectations of most private economists.

Mulvaney, whose job is to produce the executive branch's budget recommendations and evaluate financial efficiency of federal programs, is one of four top administration officials who were scheduled to testify about the president's budget pitch before the committee Wednesday.

"Basically dead on arrival", opined the Senate's No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn of Texas.

Several other lawmakers concurred with Sanford's outlook, while Mulvaney said he was "stunned" that some feel the goal of achieving and maintaining 3 percent growth is too lofty.

California Gov. Jerry Brown, a frequent critic of Trump, was also critical of the budget, which he said was "based on utterly bogus economic assumptions". Seems like a good way to discourage grocers from even participating in the program, so food stamp recipients' lives can get a little less convenient.

"If you borrow money, if you take money from people and have no intention and no plan of ever giving it back to them, that is not debt".

That is, it claims that the same $2.06 trillion can be used to both reduce the budget deficit and simultaneously pay for Trump's proposed tax cuts, according to a report by Axios. The Trump administration wants to cut $2.5bn from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - almost one-third of its budget.

THE FACTS: Mulvaney is being artfully evasive about the health care program for families and the poor.

"I wish I could take that clip of de Blasio, just show it to politicians as an example of why people don't take us seriously", Mulvaney said. But the Congressional Budget Office is projecting 1.9 percent growth, while the Fed projects 1.8 percent.

  • Zachary Reyes