Published: Wed, May 24, 2017
U.S. | By Rene Hicks

Trump administration sending Congress $4.1 trillion budget

Trump administration sending Congress $4.1 trillion budget

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 Andrew Feinberg, a reporter with Russia's Sputnik news outfit, pointed out that numerous children who would be cut off under Trump's proposal are US citizens.

-Science: The American Association for the Advancement of Science estimates the budget proposal would cut overall federal spending on scientific research by 16.8 percent.

Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Department of the Treasury secretary, also spoke out in support for the newly proposed plan.

The proposed $4.1 trillion 2018 budget released Tuesday has a line item for "a physical wall" along the southern border but includes $2.6 billion for border security - a fraction of the wall's projected costs - to cover land acquisition, wall replacement and new wall costs.

But some of Trump's spending proposals are so severe, members of both parties are likely to resist, if only because many of their constituents rely on these programs.

The Trump administration has until now said its planned tax cuts would pay for themselves by pushing economic growth to 3 per cent a year - a claim already seen as outlandish by every serious analyst, liberal and conservative alike.

But their policy agenda has stalled as the White House grapples with the political fallout from allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

"(The) State (Department) still has some flexibility to come up with a final plan on that, but I do know that writ large we have proposed to move several countries from a direct grant programme to a loan guarantee programme", he said.

Trump would keep campaign pledges to leave core Medicare and Social Security benefits for the elderly alone but that translated into even deeper cuts in programs for the poor such as Medicaid and food stamps.

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"That assumes a pessimism about America, about the economy, about its people, about its culture, that we're simply refusing to accept", White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters on Monday. "It's not right when you look at it from the perspective of people who pay the taxes", Mulvaney declared.

Many Republican senators who weren't outright condemning President Donald Trump's fiscal year 2018 budget made sure to acknowledge a universal truth of budgeting in Washington: The spending bills Congress eventually passes don't always bear much resemblance to the president's list of priorities. The president's plan suggests cutting about 25 percent of the program's budget over 10 years.

McCain called the budget "illegal" because it exceeds spending caps set up in the Budget Control Act of 2011, which led to across-the-board spending cuts to most federal agencies and programs.

That is nearly 10 per cent higher than current budget caps but only 3 per cent more than former President Barack Obama had sought in his long-term budget plan.

The White House budget doesn't touch Medicare or Social Security, Mulvaney said, but it does make cuts to Social Security disability payments, something Mulvaney said people don't typically think of as Social Security.

Those programs may not come out of Capitol Hill unscathed, however. But it faces an uncertain future in the Senate, which is writing its own law.

Over the next decade, funding for Medicaid would be slashed by $800 billion and funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, would be cut by $192 billion.

Other cuts in Trump's budget include reductions in pension benefits for federal workers, in part by requiring employees to make higher contributions. "The cuts are draconian".

Todd Harrison, a defence budget analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said the switch from grants to loans for military aid may mean that countries will not be able to afford United States military equipment, forcing them to go elsewhere for supplies.

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