Democratic Leaders Denounce White House’s ‘Budget for a Better America’

Supporters see the suggested cuts as a pathway to balance spending, while critics say it undermines critical programs

By Connor D. Wolf | March 11, 2019

The White House argued its annual budget proposal, unveiled on Monday, will help balance federal spending — while Democratic leaders predictably denounced it.

President Donald Trump’s budget included various spending items for the next fiscal year at a total of $4.7 trillion. Those in support of the proposal see the spending cuts and reforms as a pathway to balancing the federal budget.

In addition, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be provided $5.4 billion to help it fight illegal immigration. The budget also calls for $8.6 billion in new funding for the construction of a border wall.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other critics, however, warn that the recommended cuts would undermine critical programs on which many Americans rely.

Related: Trump’s Budget Proposal Would Finish the Border Wall, Cut $2.7 Trillion in Other Spending

The budget proposal calls for $2.7 trillion in spending cuts for various federal agencies and programs while also calling for increased spending on defense and border security. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders held a media briefing a few hours after the budget was released to break it down.

“[The budget] builds upon incredible success and keeps his promises to the American people,” Sanders said. “It continues the president’s pro-job creation policies, keeps taxes low and combats the opioid epidemic, protects our veterans, defends our nation and secures our borders.”

The Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of State, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of the Interior will all see large budget cuts. Trump has regularity promised to lower federal spending and cut bureaucratic red tape. He included many of his other priorities in the budget proposal, such as military and border wall funding.

“Even with a strong economy, deficits are still a threat and this budget demonstrates the president’s vision to restrain Washington spending and reach [a] balanced budget by 2034,” Sanders said. “This is a clear roadmap for a fiscally secured future if Congress chooses to follow it.”

Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought echoed the deficit concerns during the briefing.

He warned the annual deficit will exceed a trillion dollars a year and that interest payments on the national debt will exceed military spending by 2024. He argued the budget proposal will help avoid the problem by cutting government spending.

The proposed $2.7 trillion in cuts represents more spending reductions proposed than by any administration in history.

“This budget reflects the president’s priorities to ensure that all Americans can benefit from the nation’s historic economic boom and record low unemployment,” Vought said. “No president has done more in two years to strengthen our military, restart our economy and reform our government — promises he made while running for office. This is threatened by our unsustainable national debt, which has doubled under the previous administration and now stands at more than $22 trillion.”

Vought added that the proposed $2.7 trillion in cuts represents more spending reductions proposed than by any administration in history. He also said that through those spending reforms, the national budget will be balanced in 15 years. This is in addition to the the president’s direction to federal agencies to meet a target of a five percent reduction in non-defense discretionary spending last year.

Democrats were quick to oppose the proposal; their primary concern was entitlement cuts. The budget would cut $845 billion over the next decade from Medicare. Pelosi condemned the budget proposal while arguing it would take away health care for many and undermine economic security for seniors and families.

“The cruel and shortsighted cuts in President Trump’s budget request are a roadmap to a sicker, weaker America,” Pelosi said in a statement. “House Democrats will reject this toxic, destructive budget request, which would hollow out our national strength and fail to meet the needs of the American people.”

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was a major success for the president and congressional allies when it was passed in December 2017. The law lowered taxes for most individuals and families while also cutting rates for many businesses.

But it also added an estimated $1.8 trillion to the deficit over the next decade.

Related: Kudlow Says Trump Wants 5 Percent Domestic Spending Cuts in ‘Tough’ 2020 Budget

“After adding $2 trillion to the deficit with the GOP tax scam for the rich, President Trump wants to ransack as much as $2 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid,” Pelosi said. “While demanding billions more for his wasteful, ineffective wall, President Trump will steal from students and hungry families, from rural communities and American farmers, from clean air and clean water, and from vital, job-creating investments nationwide.”

Trump has made border security a critical piece of the proposal amid his continued fight to stop illegal immigration and to secure the southern border.

“Democrats believe in making investments in education, affordable housing, environmental protections, our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, smart and effective border security programs, and more programs to help middle-class families,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “The Trump administration’s budget would take our country backwards and weaken, rather than strengthen, our middle class.”

Trump increased his requests for border wall funding given the crisis that is occurring there, in his view; it remained at $5.7 billion throughout the recent government shutdown and since. The Department of Defense also gets $3.6 billion to assist in the mission to secure the border.

The budget included $750 billion in total for national defense spending and more resources for veteran services.

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This piece originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

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