WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Trump proposed a budget on Monday that calls for cuts in domestic spending and social programs such as Medicare and seeks a sharp increase in military spending and funding for a wall on the Mexican border.
While running for president in 2016, Trump pledged to leave popular benefit programs such as Medicare and Social Security untouched, but his new budget proposal would reduce Medicare spending by $236 billion over the next 10 years.
The White House argued, however, that the reduced spending would come through reforms to the government health insurance program for the elderly, not benefit cuts.
There is little chance of those cuts becoming real, as presidential budgets are rarely enacted by the Congress, which controls federal purse strings. Instead, the budget allows the White House to lay out its priorities for the year.
Still, the proposed cuts drew a rebuke from the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Budget Committee, John Yarmuth.
“These cuts to critical federal investments are so extreme they can only reflect a disdain for working families and a total lack of vision for a stronger society,” Yarmuth said in a statement.
Beyond social programs, the plan calls for deep cuts in non-military spending that the White House said would lower the federal budget deficit by more than $3 trillion over 10 years.
It calls for spending $57 billion less in fiscal year 2019 than mandated in a two-year budget deal passed last week by Congress that raised spending limits on both military and domestic programs by $300 billion.
That bipartisan agreement means Congress has already locked in its own spending priorities and that Trump’s proposals are unlikely to be taken on.
Trump’s $4.4 trillion budget proposal provides for $716 billion in spending on military programs and for maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
It also includes $200 billion for rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, and an outlay of $23 billion for border security – most of it for the building of a wall on the border with Mexico to stop illegal immigration.
Trump’s budget calls for $571 million in additional funding to hire 2,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and agents. It also requests funding for more judges and attorneys to handle cases of illegal immigration.
In keeping with another Trump campaign promise, the budget provides for $200 billion in federal funds intended to spur $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments with state, local and private partners over the next 10 years – an ambitious program that will have to be approved by Congress.
The budget also seeks some $13 billion in new funding over the next two years to combat the opioid epidemic.
The proposal increases U.S. contributions to the United Nations, an organization that Trump has repeatedly criticized, by 4.5 percent. The budget explains the increase as supporting American interests, including “drug control, crime and terrorism prevention, and trade promotion.”