Military Wins in Donald Trump's First Budget; Environment, Aid Big Losers
President Donald Trump will ask the US Congress for dramatic cuts to many federal programs as he seeks to bulk up defence spending, start building a wall on the border with Mexico and spend more money deporting illegal immigrants.
File photo of US President Donald Trump. (Photo: REUTERS)
Washington: President Donald Trump will ask the US Congress for dramatic cuts to many federal programs as he seeks to bulk up defence spending, start building a wall on the border with Mexico and spend more money deporting illegal immigrants.
In a federal budget proposal with many losers, the Environmental Protection Agency and State Department stand out as targets for the biggest spending reductions. Funding would disappear altogether for 19 independent bodies that count on federal money for public broadcasting, the arts and regional issues from Alaska to Appalachia.
Congress, controlled by Trump's fellow Republicans, may reject some or many of his proposed cuts. Some of the proposed changes, which Democrats will broadly oppose, have been targeted for decades by conservative Republicans.
Moderate Republicans have already expressed unease with potential cuts to popular domestic programs such as home-heating subsidies, clean-water projects and job training.
Trump is willing to discuss priorities, said White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, a former South Carolina congressman who made a name for himself as a spending hawk before Trump plucked him for his Cabinet.
"If they have a different way to accomplish that, we are more than interested in talking to them," Mulvaney said.
The defence increases are matched by cuts to other programs so as to not increase the $488 billion federal deficit. Mulvaney acknowledged the proposal would likely result in significant cuts to the federal workforce.
"You can’t drain the swamp and leave all the people in it," Mulvaney said.
White House officials looked at Trump's campaign speeches and "America First" pledges as they crunched the numbers, Mulvaney said.
"We turned those policies into numbers," he said, explaining how the document mirrored pledges to spend more on the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal, veterans' health care, the FBI, and Justice Department efforts to fight drug dealers and violent crime.
Trump wants Congress to shell out $1.5 billion for the border wall with Mexico in the current fiscal year - enough for pilot projects to determine the best way to build it - and a further $2.6 billion in fiscal 2018, Mulvaney said.
The estimate of the full cost of the wall will be included in the full budget, expected in mid-May, which will project spending and revenues over 10 years.
The voluminous budget document will include economic forecasts and Trump's views on "mandatory entitlements" - big-ticket programs like Social Security and Medicare, which Trump vowed to protect on the campaign trail.
Trump asked Congress to slash the EPA by $2.6 billion or more than 31 percent, and the State Department by more than 28 percent or $10.9 billion.
Mulvaney said the "core functions" of those agencies would be preserved. Hit hard would be foreign aid, grants to multilateral development agencies like the World Bank and climate change programs at the United Nations.
Regional programs to clean up the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay would be sent to the chopping block.
Community development grants at the Housing Department - around since 1974 - were cut in Trump's budget, along with more than 20 Education Department programs, including some funding program for before- and after- school programs.
Anti-poverty grants and a program that helps poor people pay their energy bills would be slashed, as well as a Labor Department program that helps low-income seniors find work.
Trump's rural base did not escape cuts. The White House proposed a 21 percent reduction to the Agriculture Department, cutting loans and grants for wastewater, reducing staff in county offices and ending a popular program that helps U.S. farmers donate crops for overseas food aid.
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