Trump budget keeps pledges: Cuts for poor, more for military


The White House budget chief on Wednesday delivered a spirited defense of President Donald Trump's proposal to slash programs from food stamps to health care for the poor in the face of strong Democratic opposition and Republican skepticism.

"My understanding is over the course of the last couple administrations, some budgets have been five years, some have been seven ... we sort of settled on this 10-year budget window for the last couple of years", Mr. Mulvaney said.

"Either the $2 trillion of added cash inflows resulting from faster economic growth can pay for more government spending and reduce the need for government to borrow, or that $2 trillion can replace the cash lost to the government from cutting taxes and reduce the size of painful tax increases you need to propose", Hennessey wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

The report could give talking points to House Republicans for their bill, or to Democrats who voted unanimously against it.

He suggests the budget's $191 billion cut to food assistance and $40 billion cut to public service loan forgiveness over the next decade are necessary sacrifices, but fails to mention that Trump's budget includes a $5.5 trillion tax cut that will mainly benefit the wealthy. People familiar with the plan were not authorized to discuss it by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. Scrapping the program would save about $499 million annually.

Trump's balanced-budget goal depends not only on 3 percent growth projections that most economists view as overly optimistic but also a variety of accounting gimmicks, including an nearly $600 billion peace dividend from winding down overseas military operations and assuming that overhauling the tax code in a way that provides no net tax cuts would spark that growth and generate more than $2 trillion in higher revenues.

The fiscal 2018 budget proposal, released by the White House on Tuesday, would cut the DOT's discretionary budget by almost 13 percent, to $16.2 billion.

Rep. John Carter, a Texas Republican who chairs the subcommittee, described the proposed cuts as "worrisome" and also questioned the need to add thousands of new immigration jail beds.

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To be sure, federal safety-net programs should not be immune from pruning; we've called for many such measures in previous editorials. The gross domestic product had plunged 2.7 percent in 2008. It would create three tax brackets - 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent - instead of the current seven. The budget plan includes a 29 percent cut to the food stamp program, a 19 percent cut to the Children's Health Insurance Program and double-digit cuts to Medicaid, unemployment insurance and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (which has been continuously squeezed since its creation 20 years ago as part of welfare reform).

The proposal got a chilly reception from congressional Republicans and Democrats, who insist they will have the final say as they struggle to complete a health care bill and rewrite the tax code.

Republicans are still eying cuts to the program, but none as large as what Trump has proposed.

It is unclear if the Republican-controlled House and Senate will be able to pass a budget blueprint for the fiscal year starting on October 1.

The president's budget would also roll back investments in other programs that have propped up the Heartland, like cuts to rural business programs, hospital funding, and housing and infrastructure programs. Their budgets pass each year through annual appropriations bills.

The earlier blueprint proposed a $54 billion, 10 percent increase for the military above an existing cap on Pentagon spending, financed by an equal cut to nondefense programs, which meant slashing medical research and foreign aid.

Jordan Weissmann, Slate's senior business and economics correspondent, argued that Trump's budget is "frightening".

Trump administration critics were not as forgiving.