President's Proposed Budget Shifts Cash From Federal Programs to Military

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Mar 16, 2017

President Trump's outline for his $1.1 trillion "America First" budget eliminates dozens of federal programs in favor of increased defense spending, essentially making $54 billion in cuts to fund $54 billion in military expenditures, according to the New York Times. While the president has promised to eliminate hundreds of programs and agencies, the budget proposal outlines 62 that he would especially like to march to the chopping block, according to USA Today.

Programs that would be cut include things such as the USDA's Water and Wastewater Loan and Grant Program, which makes investments in rural water infrastructure, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, which gives financial aid to college students in need, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which assists elderly and low-income people pay their utility bills, and the Community Development Block Grant program. Meanwhile, agencies that would be eliminated altogether include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the entity behind PBS, the Legal Services Corp., which helps provide free civil legal advice to poor people, the National Endowment for the Arts, which funds artistic projects, and the Delta Regional Authority, which promotes economic development in the Mississippi Delta region. 

Within the Treasury Department, the proposed budget would cut its overall budget by $519 million, nearly half of which would come from the IRS, which would see its funding reduced by $239 million. The plan also calls for the Treasury to be more involved in defense and law enforcement efforts, saying that there will be prioritized funding for economic enforcement tools like programs that freeze the accounts of suspected terrorists, implement sanctions on rogue nations, and connect law enforcement agencies with financial institutions. Further, the budget proposal empowers the Treasury Secretary, as chair of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, to "end taxpayer bailouts and foster economic growth by advancing regulatory reforms that promote market discipline and ensure the accountability of financial regulators," but the document did not go into detail as to how exactly that would be done. The proposed budget outline also says the administration would shrink the federal workforce and increase efficiencies by redirecting resources from policy offices that it feels are duplicative and towards staff that manage the nation's finances, though again there were few details as to what this would entail. Finally, the administration proposed cutting the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund grant program, a $210 million program that promotes the development of financial services for underserved populations. 

But not every department would see net cuts in funding. CNN notes that the budget would add $314 million to border security and immigration enforcement funding, allowing for the hiring of 500 more Border Patrol agents and 1,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement workers. Another CNN article said the budget blueprint also includes a request for $1.5 billion as the first installment payment for Trump's famous border wall, to be followed up with an additional $2.26 billion installment in 2018. Overall, according to NBC, the Pentagon would get $52 billion extra for military spending and $2 billion for national defense programs outside the Defense Department, Homeland Security would get $2.8 billion extra, and Veterans Affairs would get an additional $4.4 billion.  

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D - New York) blasted the budget blueprint, saying in a statement that the president is a "special interests zealot" who is shifting the burden from the wealthy to the middle and working class, according to The Hill. Schumer said that the president is cutting the programs that help the middle class the most. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R - Wisconsin), however, expressed support for the proposal, which he said turns the page on the last eight years, and said that he looks forward to reviewing the plan. The plan may, however, run into Republican opposition in the Senate, as Sen. John McCain (R - Arizona) said that the measure did not give enough to the military, and called for $640 billion, versus the $603 billion the proposed budget allots, according to another article in The Hill

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