If Donald Trump promised something on the campaign trail, chances are you can see it in his first budget.
Military and border security would increase dramatically. Aid to public broadcasting would be eliminated. Programs combating global warming would be slashed. And $4.1 billion would be spent on a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump’s $1.15 trillion budget – entitled “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” -- was unveiled early Thursday, offering Americans an opportunity to understand his priorities as president.
“We wrote it using the president’s own words,” said Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget. “We went through his speeches. We went through articles that have been written about his policies. We talked to him. We wanted to know what his policies were. And we turned those policies into numbers.”
President Donald Trump’s budget was released online at 7 a.m. Thursday.
Trump attempts to shrink the size of the federal government, eliminate redundant programs, make agencies more efficient and get rid of waste, his aides say.
“We are determined to work with the administration to shrink the size of government, grow our economy, secure our borders, and ensure our troops have the tools necessary to complete their missions,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. said.
The budget eliminates money for the Appalachian Regional Commission and Delta Regional Authority, designed to boost economic development, Community Development Block Grants, which helps pay for neighborhood improvements and low-income energy assistance. It reduces money for Federal Emergency Management Agency grants to state and local governments as well as aid to those governments for incarcerating immigrants who are in the country illegally.
"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 the budget.
In some cases, aides say, Trump would cut programs only to later create his own. For example, he reduced money for some infrastructure projects at the Department of Transportation in the budget but will unveil his own package later in the year.
“President Trump clearly has no intention of fulfilling his campaign promises to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure or provide new opportunities for economic mobility,” said Rep. David E. Price of North Carolina, top Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee responsible for transportation and housing funding. “These radical cuts would make it impossible to make the investments in our future that a great country must make.”
Even some Republicans looking for a strong commitment to infrastructure from the Trump administration may be surprised by the initial cuts.
"Our lack of investment in infrastructure has consequences both in terms of safety and our ability to compete in the global economy," Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican said before the budget was released. “There isn’t a town or county in Kansas that doesn’t have a problem with a road or a bridge.”
The spending proposal for the 2018 fiscal year, which begins on Oct.1, includes a $54 billion increase in defense spending, which would require Congress to end defense-spending caps agreed to in 2011. This increase in defense spending, most of which is predetermined, would be offset by cuts in programs that lawmakers have a say over, so-called discretionary spending.
The document is merely a blueprint – or what’s dubbed a skinny budget – with a more detailed document being released in May, a common practice for presidents in their first year. Trump also released a budget making funding requests for the remaining months of the current fiscal year. A temporary spending bill expires April 28.
The first Trump budget does not reflect a balanced budget nor a significant reduction in the federal deficit, Mulvaney said. That’s because it does not tackle the real drivers of increased government spending – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Roughly 75 million baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are reaching retirement age and straining those government programs. Trump promised on the campaign trail that he would not make changes to those programs, held dear by older Americans, an active group of voters.
“Missing from this budget are initiatives the president has publicly highlighted like tax reform and infrastructure that could profoundly affect the government’s finances, and mandatory spending on entitlement programs, which are the largest drivers of the debt and must be addressed,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
Trump’s fellow Republicans control both chambers of Congress but even so lawmakers are expected to move forward with their own budget blueprint this spring as they traditionally have done. Still, their plan is likely to reflect Trump’s priorities.Democrats oppose many of the cuts and likely insist that similar caps on domestic spending be eliminated.
President Trump is not making anyone more secure with a budget that hollows out our economy and endangers working families House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
“This is the ‘America first’ budget,” Mulvaney said. “You had the ‘America first’ candidate and you have the ‘America first’ budget.”
Mulvaney said department and agency heads have broad authority to determine where and whom to cut. He said he could not estimate how the reductions might affect the federal workforce.
“We give them a tremendous amount of flexibility in their own agencies this year,” he said.
There are deep cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Endowment for the Arts, the IRS, legal aid for the poor and the AmeriCorps national service program.
That sound you hear from Washington, DC this morning is the weeping and gnashing of teeth from bureaucrats and politicians who have built the federal government into an industry on the backs of taxpayers David McIntosh, president of the conservative Club for Growth
“The latest budget continues the administration’s shocking disregard for priorities that are critical for people’s health and the economy,” said Manish Bapna, managing director of the World Resources Institute. “The U.S. government must have the resources to protect air, water and people’s health at home.”
In response to a question about HUD, Mulvaney said its programs had had limited success. “There are a lot of programs that simply can’t justify their existence,” he said.
The State Department would be cut by 28 percent, in part because of a reduction in foreign aid. Foreign aid amounts to just roughly 1 percent of federal spending, and many of the programs it funds are considered important to U.S. national security.
“It’s not a commentary on the president’s policies toward the State Department,” Mulvaney said. “It’s a commentary toward what’s in their State Department budget.”
The Department of Defense budget would increase 10 percent. The Department of Homeland Security budget would increase 6 percent, including the Coast Guard, which had been rumored to be cut. More money will be spent generally on law enforcement and on public and private school choice.
If he said it on the campaign, it’s in the budget. Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget
“The president was very clear he wants to send a message to our allies and our potential adversaries that this is a strong-power administration,” Mulvaney said. “You will see money move from soft-power programs, such as foreign aid, into more hard-power programs.”
Trump wants to spend $1.5 billion this year and $2.6 billion next year on the border wall, which could cost $20 billion or more. Mulvaney said he didn’t know exactly what that would pay for because they were still in the planning stages.
“We haven’t settled on construction types,” Mulvaney said. “We haven’t settled on where we are going to start. Funding provides for a couple different pilot cases, different kind of barriers in different types of cases, as we try to find the most cost efficient, the safest and also the most effective border protection.”
Bryan Lowry of The Kansas City Star and David Lightman in Washington contributed to this article.