WASHINGTON (CBSMiami/AP) – President Donald Trump has released his first budget proposal, one that would cut off or reduce funding for several agencies while increasing the budget for defense, homeland security, and Veterans affairs.
“We are proposing a budget that will shrink the bloated federal bureaucracy and I mean bloated, while protecting our national security,” said President Trump.
Trump’s $1.1-trillion budget blueprint increases defense spending by $54-billion and off-sets that boost by proposing a 31-percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency, a 29-percent cut to the State Department and additional cuts to the Departments of Agriculture and Labor, among others.
There are proposed reductions to virtually every single non-defense agency, with recommendations to drastically cut or eliminate all federal funding for dozens of agencies and programs.
The budget goes after the frequent targets of the party’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 former President Bill Clinton.
Members of the president’s cabinet lauded the blueprint, despite deep cuts to their own departments.
“I think clearly the level of, the level of spending that the State Department has been undertaking in the past, particularly in this past year is simply not sustainable,” said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“We’re spending less money on soft power, financial aid for folks overseas and more money on defense which is exactly what the president promised when he ran for office,” said Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
In 2013 however, Centcom Commander James Mattis, now President Trump’s Defense Secretary, went on record saying slashes at the State Department could make the D.O.D.’s job even tougher.
“If you don’t fund the state department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition, ultimately,” stated Mattis in 2013.
As expected, the proposal garnered sharp rebuke from Democrats.
“I can’t see how this budget can survive the light of day,” said House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi. “This budget is really a slap in the face of the future.”
The top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee is slamming proposed budget cuts to the IRS, an agency that is down more than 17,000 employees since 2010.
Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts says: “We have seen in recent years that when IRS funding goes down, call wait times rise for taxpayers.”
He adds that: “Congressional Republicans have been saying they want the IRS to be more focused on customer service, but slashing funding for the agency by hundreds of millions
Florida Senator Bill Nelson released a statement. “This plan doesn’t make any sense. You’re going to cut some of our most important agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, which is working to find cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s, the Environmental Protection Agency, which keeps our air and water clean, and the Army Corps of Engineers, which is working to restore the Everglades. I agree that we must do whatever is necessary to keep our country safe, but cutting all of these important programs to pay for things, such as a wall, just doesn’t make any sense.”
Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz called the budget, “an immoral affront to nearly all of our most important priorities: Seniors, children and families and the most important gift we can leave to future generations — a clean and healthy environment. Aside from the horrific health care cuts that will push tens of millions of people into higher-cost plans, or no coverage at all, this budget proposal sacrifices too many safety, environmental, labor and health protections, all just to ultimately deliver grotesque tax breaks to the wealthy. It weakens or eliminates funding for, among many other things, transportation, clean energy, health research, public education and housing, legal services, national diplomacy, the arts and humanitarian aid. And while Trump’s budget purports to improve our national security, it reportedly starves crucial aspects of it by putting our coasts and airports in dire jeopardy. This budget proposal is a gut punch to America’s families, their needs and their values.”
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio said, “The president’s budget reflects what his administration’s priorities are. I am very encouraged that this budget supports ideas like the Educational Opportunities Act I first introduced in 2013 with the goal of expanding school choice through tax credit incentives for scholarships to low-income students.” His statement also read, “While this budget blueprint offers insights into the president’s thinking about what’s important to his administration and the American people, it is Congress that will actually set the nation’s policy priorities and fund them. I will continue to review all the details of this budget proposal for areas of common interest we can work on together. However, I do not support the proposed 28 percent cut to our international affairs budget and diplomatic efforts led by the State Department. These programs are integral to our national security, and cuts at these levels undermine America’s ability to keep our citizens safe. In order to advance our national security interests, economic opportunity for our people and respect for human dignity everywhere, America’s leadership on the global stage is indispensable. I will be working to ensure Congress’ funding priorities allow America to play this role.”
Republicans, like House Speaker Paul Ryan, stressed that this is just a proposal right now and changes always happen once it goes to Congress.
“When the President submits a budget, that is the beginning of the budget process,” said Ryan.
The “full budget” will be released in May.