Trump federal budget 2018: Massive cuts to the arts, science and the poor
By Damian Paletta and Steven Mufson
March 16 at 12:01 AM - The Washington Post
President Trump on Thursday will unveil a budget plan that calls for a sharp
increase in military spending and stark cuts across much of the rest of the
government including the elimination of dozens of long-standing federal programs
that assist the poor, fund scientific research and aid Americafs allies
Trumpfs first budget proposal, which he named gAmerica First: A Budget
Blueprint to Make America Great Again,h would increase defense spending by
$54 billion and then offset that by stripping money from more than 18 other
agencies. Some would be hit particularly hard, with reductions of more than 20
percent at the Agriculture, Labor and State departments and of more than
30 percent at the Environmental Protection Agency.
It would also propose eliminating future federal support for the National
Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the
Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Within EPA alone, 50 programs and 3,200
positions would be eliminated.
The cuts could represent the widest swath of reductions in federal programs
since the drawdown after World War II, probably leading to a sizable cutback in
the federal non-military workforce, something White House officials said was one
of their goals.
gYou canft drain the swamp and leave all the people in it,h White House
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters.
Many of Trumpfs budget proposals are likely to run into stiff resistance from
lawmakers on Capitol Hill, even from Republicans, whose support is crucial
because they must vote to authorize government appropriations. Republicans have
objected, for example, to the large cuts in foreign aid and diplomacy that Trump
has foreshadowed, and his budget whacks foreign aid programs run by the
Education, State and Treasury departments, among others.
gThe administrationfs budget isnft going to be the budget,h said Sen. Marco
Rubio (R-Fla.). gWe do the budget here. The administration makes
recommendations, but Congress does budgets.h
Trumpfs budget would not take effect until the new fiscal year on Oct. 1, but
the president must still reach a separate agreement with Congress by the end of
April, when a temporary funding bill expires. If they canft reach an agreement,
and if Trumpfs new budget plan widens fault lines, then the chances would
increase for a partial government shutdown starting on April 29.
The president and Congress must also raise the debt ceiling, which has become
a politically fraught ritual. Although the ceiling was extended until March 15,
budget experts say the government should be able to continue borrowing money by
suspending or stretching out payments through August or September.
White House budget proposals are often changed by lawmakers, but they serve
as a marker for how the president plans to govern and as an opening bid on
budget talks. Mulvaney said the White House was open to negotiation, but he was
unapologetic about the size and scope of the reductions.
gThis budget represents a president who is beholden to nobody but the
voters,h Mulvaney said. gHe is following through on his promises. We did not
consult with special interests on how to write this budget. We did not consult
with lobbyists on how to write this budget. The presidentfs team wrote this
budget and thatfs what youfll see in the numbers.h
The 53-page budget plan offers the clearest snapshot yet of Trumpfs
priorities. Yet it is also far shorter and vaguer than White House budget plans
normally are. One of the missing details is precisely where and how many jobs
would be eliminated across the federal government.
Parts of the budget proposal also appear to contradict Trumpfs agenda. Trump
has said he wants to eliminate all disease, but the budget chops funding for the
National Institutes of Health by $5.8 billion, or close to 20 percent. He has
said he wants to create a $1 trillion infrastructure program, but the proposal
would eliminate a Transportation Department program that funds nearly $500
million in road projects. It does not include new funding amounts or a tax
mechanism for Trumpfs infrastructure program, postponing those decisions.
And the Trump administration proposed to eliminate a number of other
programs, particularly those that serve low-income Americans and minorities,
because it questioned their effectiveness. This included the Low-Income Home
Energy Assistance Program, which disburses more than $3 billion annually to help
heat homes in the winter. It also proposed abolishing the Community Development
Block Grant program, which provides roughly $3 billion for targeted projects
related to affordable housing, community development and homelessness programs,
among other things.
The budget was stuffed with other cuts and reductions. It calls for
privatizing the Federal Aviation Administrationfs air traffic control function,
cutting all funding for long-distance Amtrak train services and eliminating EPA
funding for the restoration of Chesapeake Bay. Job training programs would also
be cut, pushing more responsibility for this onto the states and employers.
Many Republicans have criticized these programs in the past as wasteful and
ineffective, but supporters have said the programs are vital for communities in
The proposed budget extensively targets Obama programs and investments
focused on climate change, seeking to eliminate payments to the United Nationsf
Green Climate Fund — one key component of the U.S. commitment to the Paris
climate agreement — and to slash research funding for climate, ocean and earth
science programs at agencies such as NASA and the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration. At the same time, clean-energy research, heavily
privileged by the Obama administration, would suffer greatly under the budget
with the elimination of the ARPA-E program (Advanced Research Projects
Agency-Energy) at the Energy Department and an unspecified cut to the agencyfs
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
gI think one of the reasons theyfre proposing them [big spending cuts] is
that they know they wonft ever get through Congress,h said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy
(D-Vt.). gThey know theyfd be a disaster for their own party if they did. It
makes for a great talking point. It actually fits on a tweet.h
There were several areas in which Trump proposed increasing spending. He
proposed, for example, $168 million for charter school programs and $250 million
for a new private-school choice program, which would probably provide tuition
assistance for families who opt to send their children to private schools.
The biggest increase in spending would be directed at the Pentagon, but
the budget plan does not make clear where the new $54 billion would go. The
budget plan would boost funding for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.
It would, among other things, acquire new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and rebuild
what it says are depleted munitions inventories. But it stops short of saying
how these new funds would support new tactics to combat the Islamic
The bump in defense spending was a marked contrast to the cuts Trump proposed
in diplomatic and international programs. He proposed cutting combined spending
for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development by
$10.1 billion, or nearly 29 percent. It would cut an unspecified amount of
funding from U.N. peacekeeping efforts. It would also cut spending for Treasury
International Programs, foreign assistance programs that have been supported by
Republican and Democratic administrations, by $803 million, or 35 percent.
Trump directed funding to meet several of his campaign pledges as well.
He proposed new money to hire border security agents and immigration
And he requested $1.7 billion in new funding this year and an additional $2.6
billion in new funding in 2018 to begin construction of a wall along the border
with Mexico. Trump proposed creating this wall during his campaign and had said
Mexico would pay for it. A number of congressional Republicans appear to be
cooling on the idea.
The federal government is expected to spend more than $4 trillion in the
fiscal year that begins in October, and Trumpfs budget proposal would deal with
slightly more than 25 percent of this funding. The government is expected
to spend $487 billion more than it brings in through revenue during the next
fiscal year, and to avoid widening the deficit, Trump proposed steep cuts across
the budget to compensate for the new defense spending.
Trump will propose a more comprehensive budget plan in May, which could
include changes to programs such as Medicaid and also offer economic forecasts.
But that proposal will come after the deadline for reaching an agreement to
avoid a partial shutdown. So Thursdayfs budget proposal from Trump will factor
squarely into those negotiations.
Kelsey Snell and Philip Rucker contributed to this report.