President Donald Trump’s proposed $4.1 trillion budget slashes safety net programs for the poor, targeting food stamps and Medicaid, while relying on rosy projections about the nation’s economic growth to balance the budget within 10 years.
The cuts are part of a budget blueprint for the upcoming fiscal year that amount to a dramatic restructuring of the government, with protection for retirement programs for the elderly, billions of dollars more for the military and the rest of the government bearing the bulk of the reductions.
The plan was outlined in White House summary documents. It will be officially released on Tuesday.
The politically perilous cuts to Medicaid, the federal-state health care for the poor and disabled; college loans, food stamps and federal employee pension benefits guarantee Trump’s budget won’t go far in Congress, even though Republicans control both the House and Senate. Those cuts follow a partial plan from March that targeted domestic agency operations and foreign aid that were quickly dismissed by lawmakers.
“I just think it’s the prerogative of Congress to make those decisions in consultation with the president,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said as he predicted the Medicaid cuts wouldn’t survive the Senate. “But almost every president’s budget proposal that I know of is basically dead on arrival.”
The plan cuts almost $3.6 trillion from an array of benefit programs and domestic agencies over the coming decade. It assumes Republicans will repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s health care law, known as “Obamacare,” while reducing Medicaid, eliminating student loan subsidies, sharply slashing food stamps and cutting $95 billion in the program for highway funds for the states.
“We need people to go to work,” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters Monday. “If you are on food stamps, we need you to go to work. If you are on disability and you should not be, we need you to go back to work.”
The budget plan reflects the small-government views of Mulvaney, a former tea party congressman; Trump has so far displayed little interest in budget issues and the plan is being released while the president is on his first overseas trip.
Trump’s plan promises that overhauling the tax code and easing regulations will lift economic growth from the lackluster 2.1 percent average rate of recent years to sustained annual gains of 3 percent or better. Higher growth means lower deficits and Trump’s plan folds in more than $2 trillion in unspecified deficit savings over the coming decade from “economic feedback” to promise balance.