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Trump Proposes Steep Cuts to Domestic Programs, Foreign Aid in 2021 Budget

President Donald Trump addresses his acquittal at the White House, February 6, 2020. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

President Trump’s $4.8 trillion budget slated to be released Monday seeks to balance the budget in 15 years with cuts to foreign aid and domestic programs, while increasing funding for infrastructure and immigration-reform measures.

The White House’s 2021 budget is unlikely to pass the Democratically controlled House of Representatives in an election year, as it would bolster Trump’s political agenda while slashing the size of numerous federal agencies.

The budget includes a further $2 billion to fund the construction of the southern border wall, and increases the budgets of the Department of Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs by 3 and 13 percent, respectively, while slashing funding for the Commerce Department (37 percent), the Departments of Energy and Education (8 percent), the department of Housing and Urban Development (15 percent), and the Department of Health and Human Services (9 percent). It also includes a 12 percent boost to NASA’s budget, with the purpose of re-landing U.S. astronauts on the surface of the Moon by 2024.

To reach a balanced budget by 2035, the White House proposes $4.4 trillion in cuts, while assuming strong economic growth near 3 percent — significantly higher than projections from the Federal Reserve and the Congressional Budget Office. Specific targets include a significant reduction in foreign aid, federal disability insurance benefits, and student loan forgiveness. The budget also seeks to extend the Trump administration’s 2017 tax cuts over the next ten years.

The projected $4.6 trillion in savings comes after the Congressional Budget Office predicted that the federal deficit would exceed $1 trillion annually for at least the next decade in its January report. The White House assumes in its budget that spending would fall below the trillion-dollar mark to $966 billion in fiscal year 2021.

“We’re going to have a national election that will hopefully decide that Congress is going to be on the side of the American people along with other taxpayers who balance their family budgets,” a senior White House official explained. “We’re making the argument that deficit reduction is really important.”

A point of contention includes cuts to discretionary and mandatory domestic programs, including Medicaid and Medicare. The budget projects cuts of approximately $300 billion, largely aimed at “waste” and mirroring similar proposals from the Obama administration, which would not reduce benefits. Examples include eliminating improper payments to people who have died and expanding the 20-hour-per-week work requirement for food stamp recipients to Medicaid and housing programs.

President Trump tweeted Saturday that “we will not be touching your Social Security or Medicare in Fiscal 2021 Budget,” despite suggesting in January that cuts could be on the horizon.

Two potential points of bipartisanship include reducing costs on prescription-drug prices and increasing spending on infrastructure. The president does not propose specific policy, but sets a target of $135 billion in savings linked to lower prices over the next ten years. For infrastructure, the budget includes $1 trillion in new spending.

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