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Trump budget counts on deep cuts to Medicaid, social programs

The latest budget proposal cuts $193 billion to

The latest budget proposal cuts $193 billion to the food stamp program over 10 years. Credit: EPA / JIM LO SCALZO

WASHINGTON — The White House is set Tuesday to submit to Congress a detailed spending proposal with deep cuts to Medicaid and other social services and hikes in defense funding as part of what President Donald Trump’s budget director called a “taxpayer-first budget.”

Trump’s spending pitch for the next fiscal year aims to balance the budget within 10 years through 3 percent economic growth.

It includes the House-passed American Health Care Act cuts to Medicaid of more than $800 billion over 10 years, according to several published reports.

It also finds savings for national security and other administration priorities with cuts over 10 years of $193 billion to the food stamp program and $40 billion to the child and earned income tax credit initiatives, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Democrats immediately condemned the blueprint, unveiled as Trump makes his first trip abroad as president, as devastating to the social safety net on which many low-income Americans rely.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said it wasn’t hard-hearted but rather what’s best for taxpayers at large.

“How do we justify programs to folks?” he said Monday of the underlying philosophy.

“Really, what it is, is a taxpayer-first budget,” he told reporters, adding that the proposal looks “through the eyes of the people who pay taxes as much as the people who receive the benefits.”

Like the “skinny budget” unveiled in March, the full spending plan includes a $54 billion boost for the Pentagon.

It also proposes $2.6 billion for border security, including fixes to existing portions of a border wall, technology and personnel costs.

It calls for six weeks of paid family leave at a cost of $18 billion over 10 years, according to budget documents.

“What Trumponomics is — and what this budget is a part of — is an effort to get to sustained 3 percent economic growth in this country again,” he said.

Analysts stressed that the rate is ambitious.

“In the context of an aging population, achieving rapid economic growth represents a major challenge,” the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget wrote, saying a slowdown because of an aging workforce should make for a 1.8 percent growth over the next decade.

Mulvaney said the Medicaid cuts assume final passage of the American Health Care Act and said his office took it “another half a step further and ratcheted down some of the growth rates that are assumed in the AHCA.”

The Obamacare-repeal bill has an uncertain fate in the Senate.

Mulvaney said the number of participants in the food stamp program, known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, spiked during the recession but had not dropped enough as the economy improved.

“Are there folks on SNAP who shouldn’t be?” he said, adding that the administration wants assistance for those who need them, not those who don’t. “We believe in the social safety net, we absolutely do.”

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said SNAP caseloads and spending are higher than before the recession, but “the main reason is that a higher share of eligible people are participating” including “working households and seniors.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer criticized the proposed Medicaid cuts on the Senate floor on Monday.

He said, “This would pull the rug out from so many Americans who need help: those suffering from opioid and heroin addiction, people in nursing homes and their families who care for them.”

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