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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Office of Management and Budget staffers deliver President Donald Trump's 2020 budget Monday to the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019 1:00 am

Trump budget sets record

$4.7 trillion plan boosts military, wall spending

Associated Press

Also

Banks, Young praise proposal

Two federal lawmakers representing northeast Indiana offered varying degrees of praise Monday for President Donald Trump's federal budget proposal.

Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, said in a statement that Trump's plan “is a step in the right direction toward fiscal sanity. I applaud the President's commitment to border security, rebuilding our military, and getting serious about the bloated budgets and out-of-control domestic spending.”

Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., said in a statement, “I'm encouraged to see national security, veterans, and our workforce prioritized in this outline. As Congress evaluates our federal spending priorities in the coming months, we owe it to Hoosiers of every generation to put our federal budget on a more sustainable path.”

Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., said he will examine Trump's proposal but did not comment directly about its contents.

“This week, the Senate Budget Committee will review this budget and I will make it known that, as a business owner, I believe any serious plan to balance our budget must include across-the-board spending cuts,” Braun, a member of the committee, said in a statement.

– Brian Francisco, The Journal Gazette

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump proposed a record $4.7 trillion budget Monday, pushing the federal deficit past $1 trillion but counting on optimistic growth, accounting shuffles and steep domestic cuts to bring future spending into balance in 15 years.

Reviving his border wall fight, Trump wants more than $8 billion for the barrier with Mexico, and he's also asking for a big boost in military spending. That's alongside steep cuts in health care and economic support programs for the poor that Democrats – and even some Republicans – will oppose.

Trump called his plan a bold next step for a nation experiencing “an economic miracle.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called his cuts “cruel and shortsighted ... a road map to a sicker, weaker America.”

Presidential budgets tend to be seen as aspirational blueprints, rarely becoming enacted policy, and Trump's proposal for the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, sets up a showdown with Congress over priorities.

The deficit is projected to hit $1.1 trillion in the 2020 fiscal year, the highest in a decade. The administration is counting on robust growth, including from the Republican tax cuts – which Trump wants to make permanent – to push down the red ink.

Some economists, though, say the bump from the tax cuts is waning, and they project slower economic expansion in coming years. The national debt is $22 trillion.

Even with his own projections, Trump's budget would not come into balance for a decade and a half, rather than the traditional hope of balancing in 10.

'Gimmicks'

On Capitol Hill, the budget landed without much fanfare from Trump's GOP allies, while Democrats found plenty not to like.

“Dangerous,” not serious, a “sham,” they said. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called it an “Alice in Wonderland document.”

The budget proposes increasing defense spending to $750 billion – and building the new Space Force as a military branch – while reducing nondefense accounts by 5 percent, with cuts recommended to economic safety-net programs used by many Americans. The $2.7 trillion in proposed reductions over the decade is higher than any administration in history, they say.

Titled “A Budget for a Better America: Promises Kept. Taxpayers First,” Trump's proposal “embodies fiscal responsibility,” said Russ Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Despite the large projected deficits, Vought said the administration has “prioritized reining in reckless Washington spending” and shows “we can return to fiscal sanity.”

The budget calls the approach “MAGAnomics,” after the president's “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.

Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said Trump “relies on far too many accounting gimmicks and fantasy assumptions and puts forward far too few actual solutions.”

Fight ahead

The budget slashes $2 trillion from health care spending, while trying to collect $100 million in new fees from the electronic cigarette industry to help combat a surge in underage vaping. It provides money to fight opioid addiction and $291 million to “defeat the HIV/AIDS epidemic.”

It cuts the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 16 percent and Education by 10 percent, but includes $1 billion for a child care fund championed by the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, a White House adviser.

Trump is returning to old battles while refraining from unveiling many new initiatives. He re-opens plans for repealing “Obamacare,” imposing work requirements for those receiving government aid and slashing the Environmental Protection Agency by about a third – all ideas Congress has rejected in the past.

The budget proposes $200 billion toward infrastructure, much lower than the $1 trillion plan Trump once envisioned.

By refusing to raise the budget caps, Trump is signaling a fight ahead. He has resisted big, bipartisan budget deals that break the caps – threatening to veto one last year – but Congress will need to find agreement on spending levels to avoid another federal shutdown in the fall.

Conservatives railed against deficits that rose during the first years of Barack Obama's administration. But even with GOP control of Congress during the first two years of the Trump administration, deficits were on a steady march upward.

The Democratic chairman of the House Budget Committee, Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, said Trump added nearly $2 trillion to deficits with the GOP's “tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations, and now it appears his budget asks the American people to pay the price.”