President Donald Trump’s first full budget which will be presented to lawmakers today has slashed funding for healthcare and food assistance programs for the poor while it trims the deficit.
Trump, currently traveling in the Middle East and Europe on his first foreign trip since assuming office in January, will miss the unveiling of his plan.
According to Reuters, the plan would cut $3.6 trillion in government spending over 10 years, balancing the budget by the end of the decade. More than $800 billion would be cut from the Medicaid program for the poor and more than $192 billion from food stamps.
Presidential budgets are often ignored by the U.S. Congress, which controls federal purse strings. Lawmakers are expected to shy away from at least some of the many politically sensitive cuts proposed by Trump.
The budget, which covers the fiscal year that starts in October, is being delivered as the White House tries to push ahead on its pro-business economic agenda while grappling with the political fallout from Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
Comey was leading a probe of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and possible ties to the Trump campaign.
Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House, are looking for ways to cut federal spending as they pursue massive tax cuts, the cornerstone of the Trump administration’s pro-business economic agenda.
“If Congress has a different way to get to that endpoint, God bless them, that’s great,” said White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, who will defend the plan to lawmakers in hearings set for Wednesday and Thursday.
FOOD STAMPS, FARM SUPPORTS
Trump’s biggest savings come from the Medicaid program. The cuts were part of a Republican healthcare bill passed by the House in early May, which aims to gut the Obama administration’s 2010 law that expanded insurance coverage and the government-run Medicaid program.
But the bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, which is writing its own law.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps, would be changed to require more childless people to work and would shift more of the costs to state governments. Mulvaney said those changes would need to be made by lawmakers in the next farm bill legislation a year from now.
“We are no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programs, or the number of people on those programs,” Mulvaney told reporters on Monday.
“We’re going to measure compassion and success by the number of people we help get off of those programs and get back in charge of their own lives,” he said.
The White House also proposed radically slashing farm supports by $38 billion over 10 years, including new limits on premiums for crop insurance and caps for commodity payments.
The plan would impose user fees of $660 million per year to help pay for U.S. Agriculture Department inspectors at meat and poultry plants.
Another politically fraught line item is a proposal to cut $46 billion over a decade from the U.S. Postal Service.
The plan would also sell off half of the nation’s emergency oil stockpile to raise $16.5 billion and open up the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling to raise $1.8 billion.
There is some new spending. The budget includes $25 billion for a plan to give parents six weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child.