Big surge for mil­i­tary in Trump bud­get, big cuts else­where

Cape Breton Post - - CLASSIFIEDS/BUSINESS -

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is propos­ing a huge $54 bil­lion surge in U.S. mil­i­tary spend­ing for new air­craft, ships and fight­ers in his first fed­eral bud­get while slash­ing big chunks from do­mes­tic pro­grams and for­eign aid to make the gov­ern­ment “do more with less.”

The Trump blue­print, due in more de­tail next month, would ful­fil the Repub­li­can pres­i­dent’s cam­paign pledge to boost Pen­tagon spend­ing while tar­get­ing the bud­gets of other fed­eral agen­cies. The “topline” fig­ures emerged Mon­day, one day be­fore Trump’s first ad­dress to a joint ses­sion of Congress, an op­por­tu­nity to re-em­pha­size the eco­nomic is­sues that were a cen­ter­piece of his White House run.

Do­mes­tic pro­grams and for­eign aid would as a whole ab­sorb a 10 per cent, $54 bil­lion cut from cur­rently pro­jected lev­els cuts that would match the mil­i­tary in­crease. The cuts would be felt far more deeply by pro­grams and agen­cies tar­geted by Trump and his fel­low Repub­li­cans, like the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency as well as for­eign aid. Vet­er­ans’ pro­grams would be ex­empted, as would bor­der se­cu­rity, ad­di­tional law en­force­ment func­tions and some other ar­eas.

“We’re go­ing to start spend­ing on in­fra­struc­ture big. It’s not like we have a choice - our high­ways, our bridges are un­safe, our tun­nels,” the pres­i­dent told a group of gov­er­nors at the White House on Mon­day. He added, “We’re go­ing to do more with less and make the gov­ern­ment lean and ac­count­able to the peo­ple.”

How­ever, Trump’s fi­nal ver­sion of the bud­get is sure to leave large deficits in­tact - or even add to them if he fol­lows through on his cam­paign promise for a huge tax cut.

His plan faces strong op­po­si­tion from Democrats, who pos­sess the power to block it. The im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion from Repub­li­cans was mixed, with prom­i­nent de­fence hawks like Sen. John McCain of Ari­zona say­ing it would do too lit­tle to help the Pen­tagon and fis­cal con­ser­va­tives and sup­port­ers of do­mes­tic agen­cies ex­press­ing cau­tion.

The White House in­di­cated that the for­eign aid cuts would be par­tic­u­larly large.

Asked about those plans, top Se­nate Repub­li­can Mitch McCon­nell of Ken­tucky would say only, “We’ll see how it works out.” House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ed Royce, R-Calif., de­clined to com­ment when ap­proached in a Capi­tol hall­way.

A con­gres­sional show­down is in­evitable later this year, and a gov­ern­ment shut­down a real pos­si­bil­ity.

White House Bud­get Di­rec­tor Mick Mul­vaney said the spike in Pen­tagon spend­ing would bring the to­tal de­fence bud­get to a record $603 bil­lion - and that’s be­fore in­clud­ing tens of bil­lions of dol­lars for over­seas mil­i­tary oper­a­tions.

The United States al­ready spends more on de­fence than the next seven coun­tries com­bined, but mil­i­tary lead­ers have com­plained re­peat­edly that air­craft are ag­ing.

Don­ald Trump

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