Trump's budget boosts military but cuts GOP, Dem favorites

Posted March 16

A portion of President Donald Trump's first proposed budget, focusing on the Department of Defense, and released by the Office of Management and Budget, is photographed in Washington, Wednesday, March 15, 2017. President Donald Trump is unveiling a $1.15 trillion budget, a far-reaching overhaul of federal government spending that slashes a dozen departments to finance a significant increase in the military and make a down payment on a U.S.-Mexico border wall. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

— President Donald Trump's new $1.15 trillion budget would reshape America's government with the broad, conservative strokes he promised as a candidate, ordering generous increases for the military, slashing domestic programs and riling both fellow Republicans and Democrats by going after favored programs.

The president's initial budget proposal, submitted to Congress on Thursday, would boost defense spending by $54 billion, the largest increase since Ronald Reagan's military buildup of the 1980s. That means deep cuts elsewhere — the environment, agriculture, the arts — but Trump said that's imperative to take on the Islamic State group and others in a dangerous world.

"To keep Americans safe, we have made the tough choices that have been put off for too long," he declared in a statement titled "America First" that accompanied the budget.

Or, as Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said, "This is a hard power budget, not a soft power budget."

It's not entirely in line with Trump's campaign pledges.

It would make a big down payment on the U.S.-Mexico border wall, which Trump repeatedly promised the Mexicans would pay for. American taxpayers will, at least for now. Thursday's proposal calls for an immediate $1.4 billion infusion with an additional $2.6 billion planned for the 2018 budget year starting Oct. 1.

Parts of Trump's spending plan for the next fiscal year angered both congressional Democrats and Republicans who will have the final say on it.

While it targets Democratic priorities like housing, community development and the environment, it also would slash GOP sacred cows like aid to rural schools and subsidized airline service to Trump strongholds, and it would raise fees on participants in the federal flood insurance program.

The budget pursues frequent targets of the GOP's staunchest conservatives, eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts, legal aid for the poor, low-income heating assistance and the AmeriCorps national service program established by President Bill Clinton.

But Midwestern Republicans including Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio were upset by cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Southern Republicans like Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky lashed out at cuts he called "draconian, careless and counterproductive."

One target of the budget is the Appalachian Regional Commission, which helps communities in the region.

Trump's proposal covers only roughly one-fourth of the approximately $4 trillion total federal budget. This is the discretionary portion that Congress passes each year, not addressing taxes, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Nor does it make predictions about deficits and the economy. Those big-picture details are due in May, and are sure to show large — probably permanent — budget deficits. Trump has vowed not to cut Social Security and Medicare and is dead set against raising taxes.

As for Thursday's proposal, Republicans praised the president for beefing up the Pentagon, but they were far less enthusiastic about accepting Trump's recipe for doing so without adding to the nation's $20 trillion debt.

"While we support more funding for our military and defense, we must maintain support for our farmers and ranchers," said North Dakota Republican John Hoeven, blasting a 21 percent cut to the Agriculture Department's budget.

The proposed budget would close numerous county offices that help farmers and rural residents navigate farm subsidy and rural development programs. Rural development and water projects would also bear cuts.

"I just want to make sure that rural America, who was very supportive to Trump, doesn't have to take a disproportionately high cut," said Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala.

Budget Director Mulvaney acknowledged that passing the cuts could be an uphill struggle and said the administration would negotiate.

"This is not a take-it-or-leave-it budget," he acknowledged.

Many of Trump's GOP allies on Capitol Hill gave it only grudging praise, if any.

"Congress has the power of the purse," reminded House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey. "I look forward to reviewing this," said House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

"Many of the reductions and eliminations proposed in the President's 'skinny budget' are draconian, careless and counterproductive," said Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky.

Law enforcement agencies like the FBI would be spared. In addition to the billions for the border wall, there is a request for $1.2 billion for the current budget year for additional border patrol and immigration control agents.

More than 3,000 EPA workers would lose their jobs and programs such as Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, which would tighten regulations on emissions from power plants seen as contributing to global warming, would be eliminated. Popular EPA grants for state and local drinking and wastewater projects would be preserved, however, even as research into climate change would be eliminated.

Before the two sides go to war over Trump's 2018 plan, they need to deal with more than $1.1 trillion in unfinished agency budgets for the current year. A temporary catchall spending bill expires April 28; negotiations have barely started and could get hung up over Trump's request for the wall and additional border patrol and immigration enforcement agents, just for starters.

Some of the most politically sensitive domestic programs would be spared in the new proposal, including food aid for pregnant women and their children, housing vouchers for the poor, aid for special education and school districts for the poor, and federal aid to historically black colleges and universities.

Critics seized on difficult-to-defend cuts to programs such as Meals on Wheels, which delivers food to elderly shut-ins.

But the National Institutes of Health would absorb a $5.8 billion cut despite Trump's talk in a recent address to Congress of finding "cures to the illnesses that have always plagued us." Subsidies for airlines serving rural airports in Trump strongholds would be eliminated. The plan It would also shut down some money-losing long-distance Amtrak routes and kill off a popular $500 million per-year "TIGER Grant" program for highway projects created by Obama.


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  • William Sherman Mar 17, 8:01 a.m.
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    v Alfred ole Man, time for some facts--you know those pesky things that confront snowflakes, liberals, Dems, etc and causes them headaches. Fact--our military thanks to sequestration, Obama, and others--is about the same size it was before WW II.. Fact---as opposed to a 1200 ship navy, we now have just a shade over 200 afloat and working. Fact--the Marine Corps only has about 30 % of its aircraft
    available for use, the rest are grounded for lack of spare parts, or lack of qualified pilots.
    Our ground troops --Marine Corps and Army--are serving repeated rotations in Afghan;, Pakistan, etc as well as other scenic spots. Living next to Ft. Bragg, I personally know several troops who have deployed 5, 6 even 7 times. In Vietnam, the general tour was one 12 or 13 month rotation and then home..Some guys did pull 2 tours if they were in certain special MOS'. If you learned nothing in history, its peace through strength.

  • Jeffrey Derry Mar 16, 8:33 p.m.
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    good you can never had enough security #buildthewall

  • Adam Budlong Mar 16, 4:39 p.m.
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    That article was posted January 4th. Assuming you're trying to credit Trump for that, what about the layoffs in Illinois and Pennsylvania that actually happend while he was in office? and

  • Michael Bawden Mar 16, 4:35 p.m.
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    Boo hoo. Lots of IBM people got laid off in their 50s. Most everyone I work with got laid off at some point. Large companies where they planned on retiring from. Then when laid off took paycuts to take another job. Felt lucky to find one. Some worked two jobs. Some able to ride buy out or 401k until retirement. Airline pilots took 20% paycuts in union reorg OR instead of keeping seniority had to basically start on the bottom with another airline. The sad thing is the wise folks that endured the depression are dying out. I doubt that generation does not have much sympathy for us 60s generation. Even less patience for the 80s and after. "Self sufficiency" is becoming a lost art. Some of the happiest families I know are "poor" but debt free and know how to say " i cant afford it". AND most important dont worry about how much money other folks have.

  • Adam Budlong Mar 16, 4:30 p.m.
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    Do any of those 5 children got to a public school? If so, they sure have a "since (sic) of entitlement" don't they?

  • Michael Bawden Mar 16, 4:16 p.m.
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  • Albert Furter Mar 16, 1:51 p.m.
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    There is nothing in the budget that gets more people into the labor force. All those long term unemployed people in Appalachia and the rust belt who put their trust into Trump's words, got nothing. I am not too surprised about that but how gullible must one be to abandon a large part of the voter base less than 2 months in office.

  • K Hope Capps Mar 16, 1:42 p.m.
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    "A budget that puts America first must make the safety of our people its number one priority — because without safety, there can be no prosperity,"

    Except if you're a homeless veteran, live in an undeveloped community, live in a flood plain or need help with your heat.

    I wonder how much of the military budget is spent on defense contractors doing the same job our military is already trained for and capable of doing. Cut that waste first.

  • Ken Ackerman Mar 16, 12:49 p.m.
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    I was laid off, I'd been working for 30+years, the Republicans in NC labeled me a "Lazy Drug Addict". That's a direct quote from Julia somebody. Obviously, they didn't label me personally, they just said that anyone that was unemployed was a lazy drug addict. This was right after McCrory labeled state workers and teachers seat warmers and they chopped unemployment to nothing.

  • Anita Gibson Mar 16, 12:44 p.m.
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    So.someone that loses their job through no fault of their own, can't find work right away, you know it takes a while, sorry wages, those people and their family should just starve out on the streets like animals? No wonder this country is going down the tubes.