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Proposed Trump Budget Spares Old Age Programs, Slashes Many Others

  • VOA News

FILE - U.S. President Donald Trump.

President Donald Trump is proposing to balance the federal budget within 10 years by slashing many social programs, including those that help the poor pay for food and medical care, called food stamps and Medicaid.

Officials outlined some details of the president's first proposed spending plan ahead of its official release Tuesday. A president's budget has to be approved by Congress, so the final form is often quite different from what the chief executive submits. Democrats oppose many of Trump's plans, and the president's Republican allies in Congress are divided on some budget issues.

The Trump budget includes $3.6 trillion in cuts over 10 years. The biggest are $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid that come from the White House's assumed repeal of former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act and some other reforms, as well as a $191 billion reduction in spending for the food stamp program that currently serves more than 40 million people.

There are also cuts to college loan programs and pension programs for federal employees, while adding spending for the military.

The budget proposal also follows Trump's campaign promises to not to cut Social Security, a government-run old age pension program, or Medicare, which helps the elderly pay for doctors, hospitals and medicine.

Critics of Trump's budget, including a group called "Campaign to Fix the Debt," says these popular and expensive programs make up just over half of government spending over the next 10 years. They say it is difficult to balance the budget without trimming spending on Social Security and Medicare. They also say administration officials have based the budget on "unrealistic and rosy economic growth projections."

The White House budget projections rely on the assumption that the president's economic policy will boost growth in the world's largest economy from the current level of about 2 percent per year up to 3 percent.

"It drives our tax reform policy, our regulatory policy, trade, energy, welfare, infrastructure, and our government's spending priorities. Everything is keyed to getting us back to 3 percent," White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters Monday.

Mulvaney explained the cuts in social programs as a desire to get people who are currently relying on federal programs when they should not be to instead go back to work.

"There's a certain philosophy wrapped up in the budget, and that is that we are no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programs or the number of people on those programs," he said. "We're going to measure compassion and success by the number of people we help get off of those programs and get back in charge of their own lives."

The budget plan includes $2.6 billion for border security, with $1.6 billion of that amount designated for "bricks and mortar construction" of the Trump's desired wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. Mulvaney also said the budget changes some of the foreign military assistance grants the U.S. provides to countries into loans. He said Israel and Egypt -- by far the two largest recipients of foreign military aid -- are not among those countries.

Mulvaney acknowledged that Trump's spending proposal was just that, a proposal, but said it is a message to Congress about the president's budget priorities of spending more on defense, border security and school choice.

"Do I expect them to adopt this 100 percent, wholeheartedly, without any change? Absolutely not. Do I expect them to work with the administration on trying to figure out places where we're on the same page? Absolutely," Mulvaney said.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said the Trump plan "guts investment in jobs and hollows out our economy," and instead should be focused on investments in jobs, education, clean energy and medical research.

"A budget is a statement of values. And with this budget, the values of President Trump and Republicans in Congress are on full display: to endanger the future of hard-working American families," said a post on her website.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat from Illinois, called the budget plan "a collection of broken promises to the American people."

"As a member of the House Budget Committee, I will resists his outrageous proposals every step of the way," she said.

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