Bud­get takes ax to large swath of fed­eral bu­reau­cracy,

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - Michael D. Shear

Pres­i­dent WASHINGTON — Don­ald Trump’s pro­posal Thurs­day for deep cuts to the bud­gets of a broad swath of the fed­eral bu­reau­cracy was billed as a nec­es­sary cor­rec­tive to the growth of the gov­ern­ment’s power.

But even mem­bers of his own party ques­tioned some of the cuts — and what was not be­ing cut. More ex­pected cries of alarm came from sci­en­tists, hu­man rights ad­vo­cates, teach­ers, diplo­mats, artists and work­ers.

It is Trump’s first ma­jor at­tempt to dis­man­tle what his aides dis­mis­sively call the “ad­min­is­tra­tive state.” The $1.1 tril­lion spend­ing plan en­vi­sions deep cuts to many gov­ern­ment pro­grams while leav­ing en­ti­tle­ment pro­grams such as So­cial Se­cu­rity un­touched. It also boosts spend­ing on the mil­i­tary and bor­der se­cu­rity.

Trump was elected on a prom­ise to wage war against what he has fre­quently mocked as a bloated and in­ef­fec­tive fed­eral work­force, and he is bet­ting that his first bud­get will help con­sol­i­date sup­port by call­ing for a sig­nif­i­cant shift of re­sources away from es­tab­lished pro­grams that aid the poor, the en­vi­ron­ment, for­eign­ers and the arts.

The ap­proach is a gam­ble for a politi­cian whose vic­tory last Novem­ber came in part by as­sem­bling a coali­tion that in­cluded low-in­come work­ers who rely on many of the pro­grams he now pro­poses to slash. For now, Trump and his ad­vis­ers in the West Wing ap­pear will­ing to take that risk.

If the pres­i­dent gets his way, fund­ing for the en­vi­ron­ment, diplo­macy, hous­ing, health ser­vices and the arts will be cut by 20 per­cent to 30 per­cent or, in some cases, elim­i­nated. Mil­i­tary spend­ing will in­crease by $54 bil­lion, a 10 per­cent rise, in 2018, in ad­di­tion to a $30 bil­lion in­crease in the cur­rent year.

Mil­i­tary sup­port­ers praised Trump for be­gin­ning what they be­lieve is a needed re­build­ing of the armed forces, though sev­eral key law­mak­ers said that even the pres­i­dent’s pro­posed in­crease would not be enough for a mil­i­tary they be­lieve is too small and un­pre­pared to meet mod­ern threats.

Con­ser­va­tives hailed his vi­sion as an an­ti­dote to decades of bu­reau­cratic growth even as they pre­dicted fierce resistance from the in­ter­est groups and law­mak­ers with deep ties to the af­fected agen­cies and the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the pro­grams that will see their bud­gets slashed.

“That sound you hear from Washington, D.C., 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,” said David McIntosh, the pres­i­dent of the Club for Growth, a con­ser­va­tive free-mar­ket ad­vo­cacy group.

Re­ac­tion to Trump’s bud­get pro­posal came in a flurry of an­gry state­ments Thurs­day as var­i­ous groups be­gan prepar­ing their lob­by­ing cam­paigns to block the pres­i­dent’s plan in Congress.

Chris­tine Owens, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Em­ploy­ment Law Project, called the pres­i­dent’s pro­posed cuts to the La­bor Depart­ment a “dra­co­nian” mea­sure that “is vir­tu­ally a com­plete breach of faith with Amer­ica’s work­ers.”

Amnesty In­ter­na­tional deemed the cuts to for­eign aid “shame­ful” and pre­dicted “global con­se­quences.”

The Union of Con­cerned Sci­en­tists said cuts to sci­en­tific pro­grams were “an­ti­quated ideas and mis­guided sci­ence, which will hurt our econ­omy, kill jobs, make us less safe.” The Amer­i­can Li­brary As­so­ci­a­tion said elim­i­nat­ing fed­eral funds for li­braries was “coun­ter­pro­duc­tive and short­sighted.” Randi Wein­garten, the pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of Teach­ers, said, “This bud­get takes a meat cleaver to pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion.”

Much of the harsh­est crit­i­cism of Trump’s bud­get came from Democrats and lib­eral or­ga­ni­za­tions. But in a city where many fed­eral pro­grams en­joy long­stand­ing bi­par­ti­san sup­port, some Repub­li­cans also as­sailed the pres­i­dent’s judg­ment.

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