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03.12.2019 • TUESDAY • M 1


Highlights of $4.7 trillion budget request BY MATTHEW DALY • Associated Press

President Donald Trump’s $4.7 trillion budget request proposes steep cuts to domestic spending, a funding boost for the Pentagon and $8.6 billion for his signature wall along the border with Mexico. Leading Democrats immediately rejected the plan. A look at the highlights from the White House proposal: BORDER WALL FIGHT RENEWED


Trump’s proposal for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 includes $8.6 billion to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall. The proposal shows Trump is eager to renew his confrontation with Congress over the wall, a centerpiece of his agenda that congressional Democrats have staunchly resisted. The budget request for more than 300 miles of new border wall would more than double the $8.1 billion potentially available to the president for the wall after Trump declared a national emergency at the border last month. The politically contentious declaration would circumvent Congress, though there’s no guarantee Trump will be able to use the money in the face of a legal challenge from California and other states. Lawmakers from both parties oppose the emergency declaration, but Congress appears to lack a veto-proof margin to block Trump. The budget asks Congress to set up a fund of up to $2 billion to pay for sheltering migrant children who arrive with their families or alone at the U.S. border.

The budget request would reopen two health care battles Trump already lost in his first year in office: repealing “Obamacare” and limiting future federal spending on Medicaid for low-income people. Under the budget, major sections of both the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid would be turned over to the states starting in 2021. With Democrats in charge of the House, Trump’s grand plan has no chance of being enacted. And few Republican lawmakers want to be dragged into another health care fight.


Trump’s budget proposes increasing defense spending to $750 billion — and building the new Space Force as a military branch — while reducing nondefense accounts by 5 percent. The $2.7 trillion in proposed domestic spending cuts over the next decade is higher than any administration in history. Proposed cuts to economic safety-net programs used by millions of Americans include $845 billion over the next 10 years from Medicare; $241 billion over a decade from Medicaid as part of an overhaul that shifts more power to states; and slashes $220 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program over the next decade. The budget also reduces to the federal student loan


Acting White House Budget Director Russ Vought

programs $207 billion in the next 10 years, plus eliminating Public Service Loan Forgiveness and subsidized student loans.


Under Trump’s proposal, the budget deficit is projected to hit $1.1 trillion next year — the highest in a decade. The administration is counting on robust economic growth, including from the 2017 Republican tax cuts, to push down the red ink. Some economists say the economic bump from the tax cuts is waning, and they project slower growth in coming years. The national debt is $22 trillion.


Trump again is asking Congress to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by about a third, a request that Congress has previously rejected. The budget request seeks $6.1 billion for the EPA, down 31 percent from current spending. The budget would kill the federal tax credit for electric vehicles among a range of energy-related tax changes.


The budget request would cut Education Department funding by 10 percent while expanding money for school choice, school safety and apprenticeship programs. The $64 billion proposal would eliminate 29 programs, including a $2 billion program meant to help schools improve instruction and a $1.2 billion program to create community centers. Meanwhile, it would add $60 million for charter schools and $200 million for school safety initiatives.


The White House is seeking just over $93 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, an increase of $6.5 billion from current spending. The request would support implementation of a law Trump signed last year to give veterans more freedom to see doctors outside the troubled VA system, a major shift aimed at reducing wait times and improving care by steering more patients to the private sector. The plan again targets reducing veteran suicides as a top priority and sets aside $4.3 billion to improve the department’s computer system and website. The Washington Post contributed to this report.

Proposed budget includes $8.6 billion in wall funding BUDGET • FROM A1

it and even some Republicans sought to distance themselves from key details. And the demand for $8.6 billion for a border wall, less than two months after a 35-day shutdown paralyzed much of Washington, raised the possibility that there could be an even more dramatic impasse if a spending deal isn’t reached by the end of September. The budget plan sets up a contrast with Trump’s 2020 Democratic rivals for the White House, proposing to shrink spending on social programs at a time when many of his challengers are promising to expand it. Top White House officials acknowledged that lawmakers routinely dismiss these budget proposals, but they signaled a willingness on Monday to fight harder this year than they have in the past. “We need to continue to secure the country,” said White House Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought. “We need to continue to secure the border. We’re not going to be bashful about that. But at the same time, we’re also going to say that we have many, many programs that are wasteful and inefficient that we can no longer afford.” Trump’s “Budget for a Better America” features dozens of spending cuts and policy overhauls. Total spending on Medicare, the popular health care program for the elderly that in the past he had largely said he would protect, would be reduced by roughly $845 billion over 10 years. Some of those savings would be redirected to other health programs, but most would be completely cut from the budget. His budget would also propose a major overhaul of Medicaid, the health care program for lowincome Americans run jointly with states, by turning more power over to states and cutting spending by $241 billion over 10 years. “The cruel and shortsighted cuts in President Trump’s budget request are a road map to a sicker, weaker America,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, DCalif., effectively dooming the budget by promising the House would reject it.


Staff members from the Office of Management and Budget deliver President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget Monday to the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill. The plan includes dozens of spending cuts and policy overhauls.

Even with the cuts in Trump’s budget, the spending plan predicts annual deficits to top $1 trillion from 2019 through 2022, a threshold that has caused consternation within GOP ranks for weeks and only came into sharp focus on Monday. A number of agencies, particularly the Environmental Protection Agency, State Department, Transportation Department, Education Department and Interior Department, would see their budgets severely reduced. The Commerce Department budget would increase in preparation for the 2020 Census — but Democrats said the Census money was insufficient. Trump’s GOP allies, meanwhile, received the budget plan with a lukewarm embrace. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said the proposal was “the first step in the federal budget process and will allow us to consider how his priorities align with the priorities of Congress.” The budget was full of provisions that Republicans have long embraced but had not been put forward on such a scale. It would impose mandatory work requirements for millions of people who receive welfare as-

sistance, including for food and housing, while dramatically increasing the defense budget to $750 billion next year, a 5 percent increase from 2019. Trump and other Republicans have said the federal budget is full of waste and bloat, arguing many federal agencies could still function with less taxpayer money. Still, according to Trump’s budget, the spending cuts would do little to reduce what is shaping up to be a colossal deficit in the next several years. The deficit is the annual gap between spending and tax revenue. The budget foresees a $1.1 trillion deficit in 2019, 2020, and 2021, and a $1 trillion deficit in 2022. Asked about this, Vought said, “We do have large deficits. That’s why we are here transparently saying we have a problem as a country.” White House officials believe the budget proposal would eventually eliminate the deficit in 2035, but Democrats accused the plan of relying on rosy estimates of future economic growth in order to count large increases in future tax revenue. These deficits will add to the existing $22 trillion debt and have a real impact on govern-

ment spending. For example, the White House now projects the government will spend $482 billion on interest payments for the debt next year, more than the entire budget for Medicaid. Republicans have long called for taking steps that shrink — or even eliminate — the deficit, and putting forward a plan that would create $4.3 trillion in new debt over four years could give Democrats fresh targets on the campaign trail. There is a crowded field of Democrats seeking the nomination to challenge Trump in November, and at a time when Trump is trying to pull the country to the right, the Democratic Party has moved left. Several Democratic senators running for president have backed Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare-for-all” health legislation, which would expand federal spending on the health program by as much as $30 trillion — just as the Trump administration is looking to decrease the program’s costs. Trump’s budget also calls for maintaining existing federal funding for child care programs, hoping to generate additional spending at the state level. Democratic candidates have called

for the federal government to massively increase its spending on child care, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., recently unveiling a plan that would ensure free, government-subsidized child care for every American earning less than roughly $50,000 annually. The administration’s budget also revives its push for an infrastructure bill, asking for $200 billion in federal dollars over 10 years, which it says will lead to $1 trillion in federal, state, and private spending on roads, housing, ports, and other investments. Some Democratic candidates have called for programs on a much bigger scale, with Sanders recently calling for the federal government to rescind the 2017 GOP tax cut, estimated to cost about $1.5 trillion, and spend $1 trillion in new federal dollars on the nation’s roads, bridges and highways, among other things. House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., said the White House spending blueprint would give Democratic presidential candidates plenty of material to show how their agenda is different. “If I were running against him I would sure use it against him,” he said.

Budget broadly addresses Boeing’s Super Hornets, built here NGA • FROM A1

the border wall. The new headquarters is expected to cost about $1.7 billion, and its appropriations are being spread over several budget years. Trump said last month he would seek to shift money from other areas of the budget, including military construction, to accelerate the building of a wall

on the Mexican border. This year’s budget includes $219 million for the new NGA facility. Missouri congressional delegation members have said they hope the NGA project will not be tapped to fund border-wall construction. NGA officials said last month they had no indication that was happening with the St. Louis facility, and Repavi repeated that Monday.

Trump’s record $4.75 trillion budget is a broad blueprint, and includes a record $750 billion for defense. The government has been running deficits approaching $1 trillion under his presidency. Democrats have already declared the budget inoperable in part because Trump is requesting $8.5 billion for border-wall construction. The request comes just weeks

after the government shutdown that resulted in an impasse between Trump and Democrats over border-wall funding in the current-year budget. Line-item details aren’t expected to be released until next week, but Trump’s overall budget request broadly addresses the F/A-18E/F Super Hornets built by Boeing in St. Louis. Current-year funding covers the construction of 24 new Super

Hornets. Trump’s budget document released Monday calls for “the continued modernization of (the Department of Defense’s) aircraft fleets,” including continuing efforts by the Navy, which is buying the St. Louis-made fighters, to “modernize their current F/A18E/F fighters.” Chuck Raasch • 202-298-6880 @craasch on Twitter craasch@post-dispatch.com