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Trump hands Congress ‘record’ budget plan

13 Mar 19

US president Donald Trump has sent Congress a record $4.75 trillion budget plan, which calls for bigger military spending - but slashes funds for domestic programmes.

The budget, which is the largest in federal history, includes a nearly 5% increase in military spending – more than asked for – and an additional $8.6bn for Trump’s wall on the border to Mexico.

It also includes proposals to overhaul Medicare and Medicaid – social safety-net programmes for the elderly and the poor – and other social programmes that help the underprivileged.

However, the budget is unlikely to affect public spending levels, which are controlled by Congress.

Democratic leaders in both the House and the Senate pronounced the budget “dead” when it arrived on Sunday evening.

Russ Vought, acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said in a statement the proposal “embodies fiscal responsibility” and “shows that we can return to fiscal sanity without halting our economic resurgence”.

Defending the plan, he said: “This budget contains nearly $2.7 trillion in savings, more spending reductions proposed than any administration in history. This budget will balance in 15 years.”

The budget makes no progress on reducing the federal deficit, which ran to $900bn in 2019, or national debt, currently at $22trn.

“President Trump has somehow managed to produce a budget request even more untethered from reality than his past two,” said Democratic US representative Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Democratic senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a statement that Trump’s plan “is not worth the paper it is printed on”.

The White House is also asking Congress to make $2.7trn in cuts in domestic spending.

Those cuts would not be across the board, but from federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, which deals with climate action. The proposal suggests cutting this funding by 31%.

It would also cut federal subsidies to farmers, add a user fee on e-cigarettes and end a tax credit for electric car purchases.

The Committee for a Responsible Budget said Trump’s budget would add $10.5trn to the debt over a decade, and criticised the White House for what it called a “fantasy assumption” of 3% economic growth over that timeframe.

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