Trump proposed budget: Full of highs and lows

Maggie Curry

The proposed federal budget released Tuesday, “A New Foundation For American Greatness,” is a fulfillment of many of President Trump’s campaign promises – along with harsh cuts over the next decade to programs for those in need.

As any young adult knows who has tried to create their own personal budget, a budget is proposed earnings and expenses and requires multiple drafts and amendments. The federal budget is no different, except in looking a decade into the future.

In the opening letter of the budget, Trump says to Congress “Faster economic growth, coupled with fiscal restraint, will enable us to fully fund our national priorities, balance our budget, and start to pay down our national debt.”

Sounds like a budget.

It uses eight pillars: affordable health care, eliminating outdated regulations, developing American energy – specifically, electricity and transportation fuel, reducing federal spending, and reforms in the tax code, immigration policies, welfare system and education.

The budget has been “reprioritized” to focus on the “safety and security of the American people.”

This means a $639 billion increase for the Department of Defense—a $52 billion increase from the 2017 number.

“This defense funding is vital to rebuilding, modernizing, and preparing our Armed Forces for the future so that our military remains the world’s preeminent fighting force and we can continue to ensure peace through strength,” the opening letter says.

While this doesn’t align with any of the eight pillars introduced just paragraphs above, it does align with Trump’s value of the military and his support of veterans.

The letter also says that number includes increase funding for border security, immigration enforcement and law enforcement at the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice.

“These funding increases will provide additional resources for a southern border wall, expanded detention capacity and initiatives to reduce violent crime, as well as more immigration judges, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and Border Patrol agents,” the letter says.

This aligns with Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall along the southern border of the U.S. Trump tweeted in April that the wall was still part of his plans, and that he still intends to have Mexico pay.

How this increase is paid for between now and “a later date” – “offset by targeted reductions elsewhere” – is where Congress is likely to begin making changes.

The budget says cuts “curtail programs that fall short on results or provide little return to the American people” (page 12, if you’re interested).

Among those programs: The food stamp program, which helps low-income and disabled people buy groceries, would be reduced by $200 billion over 10 years, The New York Times reported, along with more than $800 billion from Medicaid, $192 billion from nutritional assistance and $272 billion over all from welfare programs – yes, that means Meals on Wheels. Over the same ten years, more than $72 billion would be cut from disability benefits.

“Most of the (budget) cuts will focus on programs for low- income folks and public investments,” Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said in The New York Times.

This didn’t sit well with some elected officials. Ohio Governor John Kasich, a republican, said on CBS “You can’t just take stuff away when people need to be healthy, they need to be fed.”

The welfare portion of Mr. Trump’s proposal would give states increased authority to impose work requirements and eligibility restrictions for welfare programs, and his budget would slash an estimated $274 billion from anti-poverty programs over 10 years, according to CBS.

“If they’re not healthy, they’re not going to work, and if they’re hungry, they’re not going to go to work,” Kasich said.

Cuts come across the board, including further cuts to agriculture.

The Iowa Corn Growers Association listed, in a release, concerns for farmers in Iowa, including:

  • cutting the federal crop insurance program by $28.56 billion 
  • elimination of funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program for export promotion
  • reducing conservation program funding by $5.8 billion by cutting technical assistance to farmers
  • eliminating the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)

The crop insurance cuts can be particularly devastating to farmers during times of economic difficulty.

“As a farmer, your biggest factor is mother nature, this insurance provides the protection you need to stay in business and cover input costs for the crop in the ground,” Iowa Corn Growers Association president Kurt Hora said in a release.

The loss of federal conservation programs would also impact farmers’ ability to improve and conserve the land, air, water and habitat in our state to feed the future.

Research, science, culture, education and the arts all face cuts under the budget.

Association of Public and Land-grant Universities President Peter McPherson said in a statement that the 10 percent proposed cut to the National Science Foundation would deliver a blow to scientific advances that lead to the development of new technologies and industries that improve quality of life, ensure national security and power the economy forward.

Other programs, including those at the Department of Energy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency would also face cuts, undermining their ability to support research.

Cuts to the National Institute of Health would stand in the way of critical life-saving research developing new treatments and cures.

Although the budget includes an option to create a student loan forgiveness, income-dependent program for loans after July 1, 2018, it eliminates the current programs that protect current students. Read more on student loans in in our supplemental article.

“Further, shuttering the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts would close off the long-standing U.S. commitment to the advancement of our culture and society,” McPherson said.

When you take money away that people have been using, negative reactions should be expected. It’s up to Congress to decide which cuts benefit Americans.

Read more on the programs introduced by Trump, including student loan reform and paid parental leave, in our article.