Trump takes aim at domestic programs such as Lake Erie clean-up in new budget
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump unveiled a $4.7 trillion budget proposal Monday that includes sweeping cuts to programs such as one to clean up the Great Lakes while it also increases military spending by 5 percent and provides $8.6 billion for the next stage of a wall on the border with Mexico.
Trump’s budget projects a balanced federal budget within 15 years. Independent budget analysts such as the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget sharply rejected that claim and said his plans would add at least $7.8 trillion to the publicly held debt during the next decade.
The budget, which would cover the federal fiscal year that begins in October, would slash $2.7 trillion in non-defense spending during the next 10 years.
At the same time that Trump wants Congress to approve the $8.6 billion to continue construction of a border barrier and $330 million for the Justice Department to combat opioid addictions, the administration also wants to cut funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from this fiscal year’s $300 million to $30 million next year.
Last year, the Trump administration wanted to remove all money for cleaning up the Great Lakes, but a coalition of lawmakers from both parties restored the $300 million.
“For the past few years, no matter whether it was a Republican- or Democratic-led administration, there have been attempts to cut or eliminate funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative,” said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. “And every year, we have successfully defeated those efforts and ensured that this critical program receives full funding.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Trump “is asking Ohioans to pay for tax cuts for millionaires by gutting Great Lakes programs and eliminating economic-development efforts.”
The budget does not include money for an additional anti-missile defense site, although it calls for continued work at a location in Alaska. Ohio officials are lobbying the Trump administration to select the Camp Garfield Joint Military Training Center in Portage County southeast of Cleveland, although some analysts said there is no reason to ask Congress for money until the Pentagon picks a location.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, said, “The Trump budget would devastate our environment, especially our Great Lakes Region, through a 90% cut to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and significant reductions to the Departments of Energy, Interior, the Army Corps of Engineers, and Environmental Protection Agency.”
The budget proposal offers the best indication of what Trump will push for in the coming year. Many of the less-controversial items probably will end up in the appropriations bills passed by Congress. But in a year when Trump faces a House led by the Democrats for the first time in his presidency, the controversial items probably will provoke bitter fights.
“The president’s budget request, like all presidents’ requests, is just that — a request — and really is an exercise in futility,” said Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington. “Historically, Congress has crafted its own budget without using the president’s blueprint, and I have no reason to believe that this year will be any different.”
For example, there is no chance that Congress will approve the administration’s request to scrap Obamacare and offer states money to design their own subsidized individual insurance plans for middle-income people.
In addition, House Democrats are certain to reject the administration’s call to transform Medicaid, which provides health coverage for low-income people, into block grants for the states.
“Instead of investing in Medicare and Medicaid, affordable housing, workforce development, education and a whole host of other programs, his $4.7 trillion proposal does the exact opposite,” said Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Jefferson Township. “Worse still, the president’s budget will explode the national deficit and has absolutely no chance of passing the House and Senate.”
Russ Vought, the acting director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, said the proposed cuts were spurred by soaring deficits. He said “we have a real problem that is not the result of our economic policies.”
Vought said the budget “will have more reductions in spending than any president in history has ever proposed in concert with our first two budgets,” dismissing the argument that Trump’s tax cuts have contributed to deficits — despite reports to the contrary.
In all, the budget includes $718 billion for defense, including funding for the largest pay increase for the military in a decade and the creation of the Space Force. While discretionary non-military spending would take an across-the-board cut of 5 percent, defense would see a 5 percent increase.
In addition to money to build the wall, Trump wants $506 million to hire more than 2,800 law enforcement officers and staff members for Customs and Border Protection and for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Trump also proposed a federal tax credit for school choice that would total up to $50 billion over 10 years. Welfare reform, including more stringent work requirements, would save $327 billion over the decade, the budget contends.
Trump said the proposal also would make Republicans’ 2017 tax cuts permanent.