WASHINGTON — The Trump administration kicked off budget negotiations Tuesday by delivering to Congress a $4.1 trillion proposal that takes an ax to funding for NYPD counterterrorism grants, Long Island Sound and the National Institutes of Health, among other programs important to the region.
The proposal was met with skepticism by lawmakers of both parties as well as independent analysts who faulted its reliance on unrealistic economic assumptions.
The detailed pitch, called “The New Foundation for American Greatness,” calls for increased funding for defense and homeland security, including money to start border wall construction, while slashing investment in social services such as Medicaid and food stamps.
Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill were resistant.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said it was “dead on arrival,” as all presidential budgets are, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) used the same phrase in saying he believed the Pentagon spending should be even higher.
“Draconian” was the word used by both Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.).
Many, including Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), stressed that President Donald Trump’s budget serves as a wish list, with drastic rewriting to occur at the hand of Congress.
White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney presented the blueprint as beholden to taxpayers as much as to those who benefit from social safety-net programs.
“People don’t mind paying their taxes as long as they know that money isn’t being wasted or frittered away,” he said.
In hits to Long Island, Trump proposes, in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, eliminating funding for the Long Island Sound Study for water quality maintenance and habitat restoration from $3.9 million this year and reducing funds for Brookhaven Lab by $78 million from its current $472.4 million.
Other impacts that would be felt locally and regionally are $610 billion in reductions from Medicaid over a 10-year period, on top of billions in cuts proposed in the American Health Care Act; $193 billion less for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and $72 billion pulled back from disability programs. The administration said they would be saving money through reforms.
The budget additionally seeks, in the next fiscal year, to decrease National Institutes of Health, or NIH, funds by $5.8 billion and lower Department of Homeland Security grants, including those used for the NYPD’s counterterrorism operations, by $767 million.
Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) said the cuts hurt the middle class while helping to fund tax breaks for the rich. She said the plan will increase the deficit. “Somehow, the Trump administration found a way to put together a budget that’s as fiscally irresponsible as it is socially destructive,” she said.
Like Rice, Zeldin criticized cuts to the NIH and Long Island Sound, but said that unlike the proposals by former President Barack Obama, “this budget actually balances.” He said funding may be restored for care of the Sound.
King similarly predicted that grants for the NYPD will be maintained or increased in the end product. “I’m virtually certain it’s going to be restored,” he said.
Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) said slashing funding, including for the National Estuary Program and cleanup of the Navy Grumman plume “just don’t make sense.”
He said, “The president may actually have the unintended consequence of bringing Democrats and Republicans together against this irresponsible budget.”
The plan promises to balance the budget within the decade through sustained 3 percent economic growth, but assumed other factors — including full passage of the American Health Care Act and a deficit-neutral tax code overall — that independent analysts and Democrats immediately criticized.