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home : news : national news free March 22, 2017

   
3/16/2017 1:12:00 PM
Budget: Build up military, build the wall

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump unveiled a $1.15 trillion budget today, proposing a far-reaching overhaul of federal spending that would slash many domestic programs to finance a big increase for the military and make a down payment on a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Trump’s plan seeks to upend Washington with cuts to long-promised campaign targets.

“A budget that puts America first must make the safety of our people its number one priority — because without safety, there can be no prosperity,” Trump said in a message accompanying his proposed budget that was titled “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.”

The $54 billion boost for the military is the largest since President Ronald Reagan’s Pentagon buildup in the 1980s, promising immediate money for troop readiness, the fight against Islamic State militants and procurement of new ships, fighter jets and other weapons. The 10 percent Pentagon boost is financed by $54 billion in cuts to foreign aid and domestic agencies that had been protected by former President Barack Obama.

Law enforcement agencies like the FBI would be spared, while the border wall would receive an immediate $1.4 billion infusion in the ongoing fiscal year, with another $2.6 billion planned for the 2018 budget year starting Oct. 1.

Twelve of the government’s 15 Cabinet agencies would absorb cuts under the president’s proposal. The biggest losers are Agriculture, Labor, State, and the Cabinet-level EPA. The Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Veterans Affairs are the winners.

More than 3,000 EPA workers would lose their jobs and programs such as Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which would tighten regulations on emissions from power plants seen as contributing to global warming, would be eliminated. Popular EPA grants for state and local drinking and wastewater projects would be preserved, however, even as research into climate change would be eliminated.

Trump’s proposal covers only roughly one-fourth of the approximately $4 trillion federal budget, the discretionary portion that Congress passes each year. It doesn’t address taxes, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, or make predictions about deficits and the economy. Those big-picture details are due in mid-May, and are sure to show large — probably permanent — budget deficits. Trump has vowed not to cut Social Security and Medicare and is dead set against raising taxes.

Some of the most politically sensitive domestic programs would be spared, including food aid for pregnant women and their children, housing vouchers for the poor, aid for special education and school districts for the poor, and federal aid to historically black colleges and universities.

But the National Institutes of Health would absorb a $5.8 billion cut despite Trump’s talk in a recent address to Congress of finding “cures to the illnesses that have always plagued us.” Subsidies for airlines serving rural airports in Trump strongholds would be eliminated. It would also shut down Amtrak’s money-losing long-distance routes and kill off a popular $500 million per-year “TIGER Grant” program for highway projects created by Obama.




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