By Dan Merica | Updated 7:29 AM ET, Thursday, March 16, 2017
(CNN)President Donald Trump released a $1.1 trillion budget outline Thursday that proposes a $54 billion increase in defense spending corresponding cuts to non-defense spending at the State Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency and dozens of other federal programs.
The blueprint features the broad strokes of Trump’s plan to dramatically remake the federal government. It includes plans to slash spending at everything from the National Institutes of Health to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, while boosting spending at the Pentagon.
Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, described the proposal as a “hard power budget” in a Wednesday briefing with reporters, meaning the Trump administration will prioritize defense spending over diplomacy and foreign aid.
In that vein, the administration will recommend a 28% cut to the State Department, Mulvaney said, including a 38% reduction in foreign aid spending.
A US official told CNN earlier this month that cuts would come from the State Department’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs and projects the fund programs at United Nations.
“There is no question that this is a hard power budget, it is not a soft power budget,” Mulvaney said. “This is a hard power budget and that was done intentionally. The President very clearly wants to send a message to our allies and our potential adversaries that this is strong power administration.”
There’s a good deal more at the original, including the whining complaints of John O’Grady, president of AFGE Council 238, which represents unionized workers at the Environmental Protection Agency, that the President’s budget “will be akin to taking away the Agency’s bread and water.”
In his budget message, the President wrote:
My Budget Blueprint for 2018:
• provides for one of the largest increases in defense spending without increasing the debt;
• significantly increases the budget for immigration enforcement at the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security;
• includes additional resources for a wall on the southern border with Mexico, immigration judges, expanded detention capacity, U.S. Attorneys, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Border Patrol;
• increases funding to address violent crime and reduces opioid abuse; and
• puts America first by keeping more of America’s hard-earned tax dollars here at home.
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney added:
Consistent with the President’s approach to move the Nation toward fiscal responsibility, the Budget eliminates and reduces hundreds of programs and focuses funding to redefine the proper role of the Federal Government.
The Budget also proposes to eliminate funding for other independent agencies, including: the African Development Foundation; the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Chemical Safety Board; the Corporation for National and Community Service; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Delta Regional Authority; the Denali Commission; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the Inter-American Foundation; the U.S. Trade and Development Agency; the Legal Services Corporation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation; the Northern Border Regional Commission; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; the United States Institute of Peace; the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness; and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
- $17.9 billion for the Department of Agriculture, a $4.7 billion or 21% decrease from the 2017 annualized continuing resolution (CR) level (excluding funding for P.L. 480 Title II food aid which is reflected in the Department of State and USAID budget.)
- $7.8 billion for the Department of Commerce, a $1.5 billion or 16% decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level.
- $639 billion for the Department of Defense, a $52 billion increase from the 2017 annualized CR level. The total includes $574 billion for the base budget, a 10% increase from the 2017 annualized CR level, and $65 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations.
- $59 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Education, a $9 billion or 13% reduction below the 2017 annualized CR level.
- $28.0 billion for Department of Energy, a $1.7 billion or 5.6% decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level. The Budget would strengthen the Nation’s nuclear capability by providing a $1.4 billion increase above the 2017 annualized CR level for the National Nuclear Security Administration, an 11% increase.
- $69.0 billion for Health and Human Services, a $15.1 billion or 17.9% decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level. This funding level excludes certain mandatory spending changes but includes additional funds for program integrity and implementing the 21st Century CURES Act.
- $44.1 billion in net discretionary budget authority for the Department of Homeland Security, a $2.8 billion or 6.8% increase from the 2017 annualized CR level. The Budget would allocate $4.5 billion in additional funding for programs to strengthen the security of the Nation’s borders and enhance the integrity of its immigration system. This increased investment in the Nation’s border security and immigration enforcement efforts now would ultimately save Federal resources in the future.
- $40.7 billion in gross discretionary funding for Housing and Urban Development, a $6.2 billion or 13.2% decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level.
- $11.6 billion for the Department of the Interior, a $1.5 billion or 12% decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level.
- $27.7 billion for the Department of Justice, a $1.1 billion or 3.8% decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level. This program level excludes mandatory spending changes involving the Crime Victims Fund and the Assets Forfeiture Fund. However, significant targeted increases would enhance the ability to address key issues, including public safety, law enforcement, and national security. Further, the Administration is concerned about so-called sanctuary jurisdictions and will be taking steps to mitigate the risk their actions pose to public safety.
- The President’s 2018 Budget requests $9.6 billion for the Department of Labor, a $2.5 billion or 21% decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level.
- $25.6 billion in base funding for the Department of State and USAID, a $10.1 billion or 28% reduction from the 2017 annualized CR level. The Budget also requests $12.0 billion as Overseas Contingency Operations funding for extraordinary costs, primarily in war areas like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, for an agency total of $37.6 billion. The 2018 Budget also requests $1.5 billion for Treasury International Programs, an $803 million or 35% reduction from the 2017 annualized CR level.
- $16.2 billion for the Department of Transportation’s discretionary budget, a $2.4 billion or 13% decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level.
- $12.1 billion in discretionary resources for the Department of the Treasury’s domestic programs, a $519 million or 4.1% decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level. This program level excludes mandatory spending changes involving the Treasury Forfeiture Fund.
- $78.9 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, a $4.4 billion or 6% increase from the 2017 enacted level. The Budget also requests legislative authority and $3.5 billion in mandatory budget authority in 2018 to continue the Veterans Choice Program.
- The President’s 2018 Budget requests $5.7 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, a decrease of $2.6 billion, or 31%, from the 2017 annualized CR level.
- $19.1 billion for NASA, a 0.8% decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level, with targeted increases consistent with the President’s priorities.
- $826.5 million for the Small Business Administration, a $43.2 million or 5.0% decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level.
Because very few FY2017 appropriations bills had actually been passed, most of the budget is based upon the continuing resolution funding, which is why you see the contorted phrase “the 2017 annualized CR level.”
The blueprint document, linked above, makes for very dry reading, but it’s very important. However, I am concerned that the $54 billion in Defense and Homeland Security related programs is being ‘paid for’ by only a $54 billion cut in domestic spending. Director Mulvaney noted the impending $20 trillion national debt level — as of March 14, 2017, it stood at $19,902,604,401,637.92, which is still lower than the $19,947,304,555,212.49 on President Obama’s last day in office — and a budget which does not decrease the deficit certainly does not decrease the national debt.
President Trump drew comparisons to himself with President Andrew Jackson, a comparison NBC News tried to belittle, due to Mr Jackson’s populist appeal. The 45th President has had the 7th President’s portrait hung in the Oval Office, and though President Jackson’s legacy includes things which tarnish his reputation when judged by 21st century standards — he was a slaveowner and championed the removal of the Indians from the southeast — he has the unique status of being the only President of the United States to completely pay off the national debt.
If Mr Trump really wishes to have a legacy like his 19th century predecessor, budgets which do not cut the deficit will not be enough. Our national debt is so large, more than 100% of our Gross Domestic Product,1 that it will take several determined Presidents and Congresses to accomplish what President Jackson did, and I very much doubt that such an extended commitment will be found.
- 2016 GDP stood at $18,855.5 billion in current dollars, while the national debt stood at $19,976.8 billion on the last day of the year, meaning that the national debt was 105.95% of GDP. ↩