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White House Budget Calls for Domestic Spending Cuts, Military Spending Hikes, $8 Billion for Border Wall, Extension of Tax Cuts

The budget will take 15 years to balance and envisions trillion-dollar deficits through 2022, even with rosy economic assumptions.

AARON JOSEFCZYK/UPI/NewscomAARON JOSEFCZYK/UPI/NewscomPresident Donald Trump's newly unveiled budget proposal calls for spending even more money on the U.S. military and includes $8.6 billion for a border wall. It also aims to slash total non-military discretionary spending by 9 percent, but even with those cuts the budget would not balance in 10 years—the window within which presidents typically try to balance their spending plans, even if not realistically.

The White House claims its plan would balance the budget within 15 years—and that's only possible because the budget assumes 3 percent annual economic growth, a very rosy outlook. The budget projects trillion-dollar deficits until 2022.

Overall, the budget would spend $4.7 trillion during fiscal year 2020, which begins on October 1.

As I detailed last week, the budget plan attempts to skirt budget caps in order to increase military spending by $34 billion, bringing the Pentagon's budget to $750 billion. The Trump administration hopes to slip the spending increase into the uncapped budget designated for the military's so-called Overseas Contingency Operations, which fund America's foreign wars. It's an obvious gimmick that Congress should not accept.

Meanwhile, non-military discretionary spending would fall from $597 billion to $543 billion, a 9 percent cut. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would face a 31 percent cut, the largest of any single department or agency, while the Department of State would see a 23 percent reduction.

If history is any guide, those cuts are not likely to pass. Last year, Trump called for cutting the Department of State's budget by 29 percent and the EPA's by 25 percent, but Congress instead agreed to a bipartisan budget plan that boosted domestic discretionary spending across the board (while also providing an increase for the Pentagon). And that was when the GOP controlled both houses of Congress. Now, of course, the Democrats hold the House of Representatives.

Trump signed that budget deal, but the White House is signaling that it will not look favorably on a similar dollar-for-dollar increase this year. Indeed, bipartisan spending increases are a reckless way to govern when the country is more than $22 trillion in debt, and so Trump deserves some credit for attempting to reduce spending in some areas. Still, it's difficult to see this budget proposal as a serious effort at curing Washington's fiscal problems.

Presidential budgets are always as much about politics as they are about financial planning—maybe more so. Trump's plan to boost the Pentagon's budget, to spend $8.6 billion on his much-promised border wall, and to extend the 2017 personal income tax cuts (which are scheduled to sunset in 2025) are attempts to play to his Republican base while the 2020 election is looming.

A few other highlights from the White House's budget proposal:

  • Trump is proposing the creation of a new federal tax credit to promote school choice. The budget calls for Congress to approve up to $50 billion over 10 years in tax credits for donations to "scholarship programs for families of elementary and secondary students who are seeking state-defined public or private education options"—similar to some state-level school choice scholarship programs.
  • The budget calls for new work requirements for federally funded welfare programs, including Medicaid. Able-bodied, working-age adults would have to "find employment, train for work, or volunteer (community service) in order to receive welfare benefits," the budget says. Along with other changes to federal welfare programs, the Trump budget aims to save $327 billion in welfare spending over 10 years.
  • Infrastructure week is back! Trump's budget calls for $200 billion in new infrastructure spending, though White House officials say they are deliberately not offering many specifics on how the funding should be used and hope to work with Congress on that front. In a budget that will likely face much opposition from House Democrats, Trump apparently plans to use infrastructure spending as negotiating leverage.
  • Among the few non-military discretionary programs getting a major boost in Trump's new budget is the Department of Homeland Security, which is earmarked for a $3.7 billion (7.8 percent) increase. Some of that new spending—$506 million of it, to be precise—would be used to hire an estimated 2,800 additional law enforcement officers and critical support personnel at U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Photo Credit: AARON JOSEFCZYK/UPI/Newscom

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  • Ken Shultz||

    "The budget will take 15 years to balance and envisions trillion-dollar deficits through 2022, even with rosy economic assumptions."

    Yeah, but hardly anybody will care about that. The important thing is that it includes $8 billion for a border wall.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Godamnit. Cut. Military. Spending.

    This is just another type of socialism. In fact, it's the worst kind of socialism.

  • BYODB||

    It's always good to see that people have their priorities straight. Cut the smallest, most obviously created by the constitution spending while ignoring the huge amount of spending that's creating massive unfunded liabilities.

    I mean, who cares about deficits after all. Certainly not libertarians!

  • David N.||

    By what metric is the military "the smallest?" It falls somewhere between social security and medicare, and constitutes a solid majority of discretionary spending. That's not little.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    No it doesn't "fall somewhere between" those programs. The DoD spent $600 billion last year. Social Security spent $1.04 trillion, Medicare/Medicaid Services spent $1.4 trillion. This is all in the monthly Treasury statements.

    Just cutting Medicare/Medicaid spending back to FY08 levels (not even eliminating it) would result in the lowest deficit since FY02.

  • BYODB||

    ^ This.

    That retards keep mouthing the words 'but defense' is primarily because they are against the DoD and industrial warfare machine. That's valid, but let us not pretend that we don't spend such a small amount on it that it's laughable in terms of deficits.

    It's not required to beclown oneself to decry military spending, but so many people do that I must assume that they are either stupid or willfully dense on where we actually spend our money here in America. If that is your baseline, and you can't recognize what is actually driving deficits, than please do everyone a favor and learn a thing or three.

    Saying 'but we spend more than the rest of the world' isn't a point since, notably, we are plenty of other countries military as well as our own. I think Trump figured out the hard way that this is just how the rest of the world likes it, too.

  • Nardz||

    It's progressive shibboleth

  • JFree||

    No they didn't. DoD may have spent that in the budget. But the budgeted off-budget (the Overseas Contingency Operations) defense spending was $69 billion - which Trump is proposing to increase to $175 billion. And since OCO = the cost of actually fighting overseas, then you can/should add veteran's healthcare spending in future to that.

    And regardless of the budget, there is no actual limit on OCO spending. The question is why is Trump proposing to increase the OCO 'slush fund' - to levels higher than during the height of the combo Iraq/Afghan surges? What wars is he looking to drag us into - where once in we will not be able to get out or even question?

    And it damn well is about time we start questioning even the DoD budget itself. It is higher in real dollars than the height of the Cold War (and back then there was no additional OCO slush fund bullshit) - higher than during Vietnam. Where is the fucking existential threat to the US?

  • JFree||

    At minimum, DoD should be eliminating all budgeted spending that has to do with climate change since that obviously doesn't even exist for R's and therefore can't possibly be a threat.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Nothing you wrote here refutes the fact that DoD spending is far lower than Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid services.

    It is higher in real dollars than the height of the Cold War (and back then there was no additional OCO slush fund bullshit) - higher than during Vietnam.

    Well no shit--government spending is higher in inflation-adjusted dollars across the board. Doesn't change the fact that defense spending as a percentage of federal spending is about half of what it was during those years.

  • JFree||

    I'm not refuting that. I'm saying you were dead wrong about DEFENSE spending.

    If you R's want to cut SS/Medicare, then goddamn DO IT ALREADY. All I hear is bullshit and more bullshit from you assholes about that. And then more whiny bullshit about defense.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    I'm saying you were dead wrong about DEFENSE spending.

    The Treasury statement says I'm dead right. You have nothing.

    If you R's want to cut SS/Medicare, then goddamn DO IT ALREADY. All I hear is bullshit and more bullshit from you assholes about that. And then more whiny bullshit about defense.

    Well, good luck getting that past a Democratic House, but it's easy to screech "I DOUBLE-DOG DARE YOU" when you don't actually have to do anything.

  • JFree||

    No it is not included in the Treasury statement. It appears in the Treasury's balance sheet and/or combined financial statement - but not in 'regular' spending. OCO funds are not subject to sequestration or caps and are coded separately so their accounting is more akin to petty cash or a slush fund - not something that is audited/attributed to compare to a budgeted/legislated authorization. GAO/OMB handle the disbursements ($1.8 trillion since 9/11) - CBO handles appropriations.

    Basically, Central Command has close to no 'budget' and no 'fighting units'. How the hell do you think it has taken the lead role in pretty much every war for the last 20+ years?

  • JFree||

    it's easy to screech "I DOUBLE-DOG DARE YOU" when you don't actually have to do anything.

    Even easier to prattle on about fiscal responsibility when you're a passed-out drunk running up bar tabs.

    There's actually a ton of ways that Medicare could be reformed in a goo-goo wastefraudabuse way that doesn't even reduce the perceived benefit but greatly reduces the outlays. We do after all have the most inefficient and corrupt medical system in the world. R's are chickenshit about that too.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    And since OCO = the cost of actually fighting overseas, then you can/should add veteran's healthcare spending in future to that.

    Total VA spending last FY was $175 billion. Are you claiming that's going up to $400 billion a year in the next ten years, the way Medicare/Medicaid spending went up $600 billion in the same time frame from FY08-FY18?

    By the way--the Treasury statements include ALL the spending for the year, "off-budget" or "on-budget." So your claim that DoD OCO spending wasn't included in the end-of-year Treasury statement is false.

  • Nardz||

    "Where is the fucking existential threat to the US?"

    Progressives and, to a lesser extent, open borders

  • aajax||

    Social security and Medicare are at least returns to the people for stuff they need. The military is 80% waste.

  • JesseAz||

    Defense is the worst form of socialism?

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    To Chipper. In his mind we don't even need a military, because everyone else in the world is nice and wouldn't take advantage of that.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    National Defense means that the USA cannot protect itself.

    Goal #2 of Lefties like Chipper.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Why did Medicare for All get short shrift?

  • DajjaI||

    If they cut military spending as well, I could actually get behind an increase in border wall funding, even though that too is counterproductive and wasteful.

  • ThomasD||

    I'd be more impressed with any call for an across the board spending freeze, or better yet, and across the board 1% cut.

    Of course, the latter would be treated like the apocalypse.

  • TJJ2000||

    KEEP CUTTING!!! Granite; The Trump Administration has decreased the Debt to GDP ratio (going in the right direction) but I was hoping it'd be a little more aggressive than what it is. Hope the economy thrives and wipes out the debt sooner.

  • Moderation4ever||

    This is not a budget, it a campaign document. I going build the military, fund school choice and build the wall. It should go over with President Trumps base. Hopefully the majority are not fooled. I like the part about assuming 3% growth to balance the budget in 15 years. Why not assume 9% growth and balance the budget in 5 years. Each are just about as likely. We missed 3% last quarter and there are signs of a possible recession with a year or two. That means 3% is likely out in the future.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    The majority you speak of will try to spend more.

  • Benitacanova||

    Campaign document or trying to keep campaign promises?

  • Rat on a train||

    I like the part about assuming 3% growth to balance the budget in 15 years. Why not assume 9% growth and balance the budget in 5 years.
    He's the President not the manager of a government pension fund.

  • aajax||

    Nothing about the cut in Medicare, which Trump had promised not to do? Even if you're in favor, it's worth a mention.

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