WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday unveiled a $4.7 trillion federal spending plan that calls for cuts to domestic programs — including Medicare and Social Security — while boosting military spending and increasing funding for a southern border wall.
The president’s proposed budget sets up another grueling fight between Trump and a divided Congress which has previously rejected his requests for $5.7 billion in border wall funding. Trump’s new budget calls for $8.6 billion to build new security barriers along the U.S. and Mexico border.
Trump’s 2020 budget calls for a 5 percent across-the-board cut in domestic spending, though some agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture received heftier proposed cuts. The departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs would all see at least a five percent uptick in spending under the plan.
Trump in a letter to Congress said his plan "provides a clear roadmap for the Congress to bring Federal spending and debt under control," even as the White House Office of Management and Budget acknowledged the plan would add $1 trillion per year to the nation's existing $22 trillion deficit, through 2022.
The White House budget generally serves as a starting point for negotiations with Congress, providing lawmakers with a wish list of the president's spending priorities, but the document has rarely been adopted in full by lawmakers as they hash out a budget agreement ahead of an annual Sept. 30 deadline to fund the goverment.
The proposal makes no mention of funding the Gateway Tunnel project to upgrade rail service between New York and New Jersey, prompting Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to issue a statement warning Trump that "if the federal government refuses to fund this project, then the President will have to answer to travelers and businesses across the Northeast who rely on this critical transit corridor."
Congressional Democrats — emboldened by the midterm election that gave them control of the House and eyeing the 2020 presidential race in which a handful of Democratic senators are running to unseat Trump — have vowed to fight Trump’s spending priorities.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, "House Democrats will reject this toxic, destructive budget request which would hollow out our national strength and fail to meet the needs of the American people."
The president who campaigned on the promise to build a wall along the U.S. and Mexico border, looks to continue pressing the issue heading into the 2020 race. Trump who has changed his campaign pitch to “finish the wall” is seeking additional money to build 722 miles of border barriers after forcing a 35-day government shutdown that resulted in Congress only allocating $1.4 billion for border security measures.
The president has since declared a national emergency, in an attempt to redirect military construction funding for the wall, but 16 states and a number of advocacy groups have sued in federal court to halt his access to those funds.
The budget would trim $2.7 trillion from the federal budget with some of the deepest cuts directed to the Environmental Protection Agency, which would receive 31 percent less in funding, the State Department, which would receive 23 percent less in funding, and the budget for the Health and Human Services Department would see a 12 percent dip.
The budget also proposes an overhaul of Medicaid by encouraging states to take up more control of the federal program that provides health care coverage to low-income Americans. The White House Office of Management and Budget estimates the overhaul would save the federal government $241 billion over the next decade, but cash-strapped states have long argued they do not have the budget to assume more control over the program.
The budget also calls for reforms to the Medicare program that provides health coverage for elderly Americans, which the office estimates will save $845 billion over the next decade, and proposes reducing spending on Social Security programs by $26 billion.
Democrats were quick to condemn Trump’s budget proposal.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called Trump’s budget “a gut-punch to the American middle class.”
“Its proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, as well as numerous other middle-class programs are devastating, but not surprising,” Schumer said in a statement.
Acting White House Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought said the plan would eventually lead to a balanced budget over the course of 15 years.
"We do have large deficits," Vought told reporters at the White House on Monday. "That's why we're here transparently saying that we have a problem as a country. It takes a long time to get out of that mess."