Trump's proposed budget: More for defense, less for agencies

- President Donald Trump unveiled a $1.15 trillion budget Thursday, proposing a far-reaching overhaul of federal spending that would slash many domestic programs to finance a big increase for the military and make a down payment on a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

   Trump's plan seeks to upend Washington with cuts to long-promised campaign targets like foreign aid and the Environmental Protection Agency as well as strong congressional favorites such as medical research, help for homeless veterans and community development grants.
 
   "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," Trump said in a message accompanying his proposed budget that was titled "America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again."
 
   The $54 billion boost for the military is the largest since President Ronald Reagan's Pentagon buildup in the 1980s, promising immediate money for troop readiness, the fight against Islamic State militants and procurement of new ships, fighter jets and other weapons. The 10 percent Pentagon boost is financed by $54 billion in cuts to foreign aid and domestic agencies that had been protected by former President Barack Obama.
 
   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.
 
   Such programs were the focus of lengthy battles dating to the GOP takeover of Congress in 1995 and have survived prior attempts to eliminate them. Lawmakers will have the final say on Trump's proposal in the arduous budget process, and many of the cuts will be deemed dead on arrival. White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney acknowledged to reporters that passing the cuts could be an uphill struggle and said the administration would negotiate over replacement cuts.
 
   Mulvaney also went after GOP favorites, including aid to rural schools and health research, while eliminating subsidies for rural air service and the federal flood insurance program that's a linchpin for the real estate market, especially in coastal southern states and the Northeast.
 
   Trump's GOP allies Capitol Hill gave it only grudging praise, if any. "Congress has the power of the purse," reminded House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J. "I look forward to reviewing this," said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
 
   "This is not a take-it-or-leave-it budget," Mulvaney admitted.
 
Philadelphia tourism leaders said they're watching the budget development with great interest.
 
Thursday, Mayor Jim Kenney released this statement on the impact the Trump administration's federal budget would have on Philadelphia:
 
"This budget would be devastating to every single Philadelphian. Its effects cut across racial and socioeconomic lines. While we are still evaluating the total and precise details of the impact, it’s safe to say that the cuts to Community Development Block Grants would devastate small businesses, neighborhood and affordable housing. Moving funding from public education to the charter and private sector, would weaken our traditional public schools, creating fewer opportunities for our students. The cuts to the EPA and health and human services would hamper the City’s ability to protect residents from health threats like air pollution and infectious diseases. I urge Congress to show common sense and compassion, and reject a spending plan that, if enacted as proposed, would adversely impact working families in Philadelphia and across the country."
 
City Council President Darrell Clarke released this statement:

“President Trump’s budget plan is a declaration of war on low-income people, the middle class, and seniors. Practically every program that exists to strengthen communities and empower people to lead self-sufficient and productive lives – whether through public education or health care – is devastated by the proposed $20 billion in domestic spending cuts.

“Meanwhile, the largest and most expensive military in the world is the runaway winner here. What possible justification is there for zeroing out Meals on Wheels or LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) funding, in this context? Weaker public schools, less support for the disabled, increased homelessness, higher obstacles to college, and a return to unaffordable health care are a recipe for disaster in every community, urban or rural.

“I urge the entire Pennsylvania congressional delegation and Congress to work toward a budget that protects the people they serve. Such a budget must be centered on poverty eradication, not proliferation.”

   Law enforcement agencies like the FBI would be spared, while the border wall would receive an immediate $1.4 billion infusion in the ongoing fiscal year, with another $2.6 billion planned for the 2018 budget year starting Oct. 1.
 
   Trump repeatedly claimed during the campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall when, in fact, U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill.
 
   Twelve of the government's 15 Cabinet agencies would absorb cuts under the president's proposal. The biggest losers are Agriculture, Labor, State, and the Cabinet-level EPA. The Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Veterans Affairs are the winners.
 
   More than 3,000 EPA workers would lose their jobs and programs such as 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.
 
   Trump's proposal covers only roughly one-fourth of the approximately $4 trillion federal budget, the discretionary portion that Congress passes each year. It doesn't address taxes, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, or make predictions about deficits and the economy. Those big-picture details are due in mid-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.
 
   "The president's going to keep his promises" to leave Social Security and Medicare alone, Mulvaney said.
 
   But the budget increases user fees, boosting the airline ticket tax by $1 per one-way trip. It would also
 
   The so-called "skinny budget" is indeed skimpy, glossing over cuts to many sensitive programs such as community health centers, national parks, offering only a vague, two-page summary of most agencies, including the Pentagon, where allocating its additional billions is still a work in progress.
 
   Trump's proposal is sure to land with a thud on Capitol Hill, and not just with opposition Democrats outraged over cuts to pet programs such as renewable energy, climate change research and rehabilitation of housing projects.
 
   Republicans like Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio are irate over planned elimination of a program to restore the Great Lakes. Top Republicans like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker of Tennessee are opposed to drastic cuts to foreign aid. And even GOP defense hawks like Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry of Texas aren't satisfied with the $54 billion increase for the military.
 
   Before the two sides go to war over Trump's 2018 plan, they need to clean up 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, 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.
 
   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. It would also shut down Amtrak's money-losing long-distance routes and kill off a popular $500 million per-year "TIGER Grant" program for highway projects created by Obama.
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Military spending would get the biggest boost in President Donald Trump's proposed budget. Environmental programs, medical research, Amtrak and an array of international and cultural programs -- from Africa to Appalachia -- would take big hits, among the many parts of the government he'd put on a crash diet.
 
   The budget proposal out Thursday is a White House wish list; it'll be up to Congress to decide where money goes. If Trump gets his way, there will be more losers than winners among government departments and programs.   
 
   Some programs would tread water: WIC grants -- money to states for health care and nutrition for low-income women, infants and children -- are one example.  Money for states grants for water infrastructure projects would be held level as well.
 
   Some others would lose everything: Trump proposes to eliminate money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the national endowments for arts and humanities and more than a dozen other independent agencies financed by the government.
 
   A sampling:
 
   WINNERS
 
   --The Pentagon. Trump proposes a 10 percent increase in the massive defense budget, adding $52 billion in military spending in one year top expand personnel, equipment and capability. Another $2 billion would go to nuclear weapons.
 
   --Veterans Affairs. Up 5.9 percent. That's an additional $4.4 billion, driven by ever-growing health care costs.
 
   --Homeland Security. Up 6.8 percent. That's $2.8 billion more. Most of the increase, $2.6 billion, would be to help kick-start Trump's promised border wall. The president has repeatedly said Mexico would pay for the wall; Mexican officials are adamant that they won't. Trump also wants an extra $1.5 billion for more immigration jails and deportations, and $314 million to hire 1,500 immigration enforcement and border patrol agents.
 
   --The National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the maintenance and safety of the nuclear arsenal and its research labs. The agency would grow by 11.3 percent, or $1.4 billion, so that it takes up more than half the Energy Department's budget, which would shrink overall.
 
   --Opioid prevention and treatment: a proposed $500 million increase in the Health and Human Services Department to counter the epidemic and more money for the Justice Department to combat the problem.
 
   --School choice: $1.4 billion more to expand school choice programs, bringing spending in that area to $20 billion, even as the Education Department's overall budget would be cut by $9 billion, or 13 percent.
 
   LOSERS:
 
   --EPA, facing a 31.4 percent cut, or $2.6 billion. The plan would cut 3,200 jobs at the agency, eliminate a new plan for tighter regulations on power plants, and "zero out" programs to clean up the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay. 
 
   --Health and Human Services, facing the largest cut in dollar terms: $12.6 billion, or 16.2 percent. The plan would cut $5.8 billion from the nearly $32 billion National Institutes of Health, the nation's premier medical research agency, bringing its total to $25.9 billion. It's not clear what research on diseases or disorders would lose the most money, although the budget plan specifically calls for elimination of a division that focuses on global health. Already, the NIH's budget hasn't kept pace with inflation over the last decade, making it dramatically harder for scientists around the country to win money for research projects into potential new treatments or better understanding of disease.
 
   --State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development. Down 28 percent, or $10 billion. Foreign aid would be reduced, as would money to the U.N. and to multilateral development banks including the World Bank. Some foreign military grants would be shifted to loans.
 
   --Labor Department. A more than 20 percent cut, or $2.5 billion. To be eliminated: a $434 million program that has helped more than 1 million people 55 and older find jobs, according to the department. The blueprint says the Senior Community Service Employment Program is inefficient and unproven.
 
   --Agriculture Department. A nearly 21 percent cut, or $4.7 billion, achieved in part by cutting land acquisition in the National Forest System, rural water infrastructure and statistical capabilities at the department. Trump also proposes reduced staff in county USDA offices, an idea that fell flat in Congress when President Barack Obama proposed a similar reduction.
 
   --Transportation Department. Trump proposes a cut of nearly 13 percent, or $2.4 billion. Amtrak, local transit agencies, and rural communities that depend on federal subsidies to obtain scheduled airline service would take the brunt. Trump would eliminate subsidies for Amtrak long-distance train routes, which would most likely mean the end of those routes since they are generally not profitable. Money for the Federal Transit Administration grant program for new light rail and subway construction would be eliminated except for multi-year projects the government has already committed to help fund.
 
   --Internal Revenue Service: After years of cuts, the IRS budget would be cut again -- by $239 million from this year's spending levels. The IRS budget is down about $1 billion from its height in 2010. Since then, the agency has lost more than 17,000 employees. As a result, the chances of getting audited have rarely been so low.
 
   --Commerce Department. A 16 percent or $1.5 billion cut. The plan would eliminate more than $250 million in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grants, including a program that helps coastal communities adapt to climate change, deal with invasive species and maintain healthy water and fisheries. Also on the chopping block: the Economic Development Administration, which provides federal dollars to foster job creation and attract private investment; and the Minority Business Development Agency, which is dedicated to helping minority-owned business get off the ground and grow. The Trump administration says the two agencies duplicate work done elsewhere. 
 
   --School programs: The plan would eliminate a $1.2 billion initiative that supports before- and after-school programs as well as summer programs.
 
   --Independent agencies supported by tax dollars.  If Trump prevails, a hefty contingent of entities would lose all federal money and be shut. Among them, the Public Broadcasting Corporation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Chemical Safety Board, the United States Institute of Peace, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for National Community Service and the African Development Foundation. That foundation was established by Congress and provides seed money and other support to enterprises in some 20 countries on that continent.

 

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