Budget takes ax to large swath of federal bureaucracy,
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.