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Proposed Trump Budget: More Military; Less for Social Programs

  • Jim Randle
  • Chris Hannas

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney holds up a copy of President Donald Trump's proposed fiscal 2018 federal budget as he speaks to members of the media in the Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, May 23, 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump is proposing major changes in the way Washington's $4.1 trillion budget is spent, with more money for the military, border security, and veterans. The just-published budget for next year also slashes money for programs that benefit the poor.

Trump's top budget official Mick Mulvaney says for the first time the budget looks at spending from the point of view of the taxpayers, rather than the people who get government help.

The director of the Office of Management and Budget says the budget translates Trump's campaign promises and priorities into practical plans. Mulvaney says the approach will balance the budget in 10 years, and boost economic growth to three percent.

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary and World Bank Economist Larry Summers, calls the budget's economic assumptions "ludicrously optimistic." In an opinion article in the Washington Post he says the impact on low income Americans will be "dire."

A president's budget has to be approved by Congress, so the final form may be 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.

Cuts in social programs

The Trump budget includes $3.6 trillion in cuts over 10 years, with some of the largest reductions in programs that help the poor pay for health care and buy food. A nutrition program known as "food stamps" currently serves more than 40 million people.

FILE - Grace Geltrude has relied on the York County Food Bank, welfare assistance and a local health insurance program when her paycheck and husband's Social Security check have fallen short. (A. Pande/VOA)
FILE - Grace Geltrude has relied on the York County Food Bank, welfare assistance and a local health insurance program when her paycheck and husband's Social Security check have fallen short. (A. Pande/VOA)

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 Mr. Trump's budget, including a group called "Campaign to Fix the Debt," says these popular and expensive programs make up just more than half of government spending during the next 10 years. They say it is difficult to balance the budget without trimming spending on Social Security and Medicare.

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

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has 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.

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