Donald Trump has unveiled his budget for next year – a document no one expects to become law, but which signals the president’s moral and financial priorities. “This is a messaging document,” budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters, with unusual candor.
So what is Trump’s message? In short: His administration doesn’t care about struggling Americans or budget deficits, but it sure loves defense contractors. The blueprint starts with draconian cuts to social programs – including $550 billion from Medicare and $250 billion from Medicaid, programs Trump campaigned on protecting – balanced by $777 billion in new spending for an already-bloated Pentagon. The new defense spending alone nearly quadruples what the president wants to spend on his ballyhooed infrastructure plan.
This is a fantasy exercise in public relations – one that includes rosy growth projections and unworkable spending cuts. Even so, the blueprint reveals that the administration’s marquee tax cut cannot pay for itself. Under Trump’s plan, the federal debt would balloon by $7 trillion over a decade.
Below, the most WTF proposals in the president’s budget.
1. It cuts 40 percent out of core government programs.
Trump proposes eliminating $1.5 trillion in “non-defense discretionary” spending over 10 years. That’s a 40 percent cut in what most people think of as “the government” outside of the Pentagon.
2. It ends student loan forgiveness.
Trump would eliminate Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which wipes out the balance on federal student loans for Americans who spend a decade working for nonprofits or in government jobs like teaching.
3. It cuts Head Start.
Trump asks poor kids in preschool to take a big hit to offset his corporate tax cut – $13 billion over ten years.
4. It privatizes the Space Station.
Trump would cut off funding for the International Space Station in 2025 and then launch a pilot program to “encourage commercial development.”
5. It sells off federal airports and power plants.
Trump would privatize Washington D.C.’s Reagan National and Dulles airports, and sell off the Tennessee Valley Authority to the highest bidder.
6. It cuts the EPA by a quarter.
With billions in cuts only polluters could love, Trump seeks to make good on his promise to leave only “little tidbits” left at the Environmental Protection Agency.
7. It funds infrastructure by cutting transportation.
The budget finally puts some detail into Trump’s long-hyped infrastructure plan. If you believed the State of the Union address, you may be surprised to learn that the $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan included only $0.2 trillion in federal spending. But even this allocation is phony. Trump offsets the increased federal expenditures on infrastructure with a $178 billion cut to the transportation budget. “And this doesn’t include cuts to things like water, broadband, VA, and energy,” tweets Bobby Kogan, who crunches numbers for democrats on the Senate Budget committee. “The infrastructure investment is a lie.”
8. It cuts food assistance by $214 billion.
In addition to outright cuts, Trump would replace some cash benefits “with 100-percent American grown foods provided directly to households.” According to the administration, these “Harvest Boxes” would include low-cost “shelf-stable milk, juice, grains, ready-eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans, canned meat, poultry or fish, and canned fruits and vegetables.” Mulvaney, stretching all credibility, compared the program to the bougie food-delivery service Blue Apron – but we assume it’ll be closer to a return to government cheese.
9. It ends home heating assistance.
To help people of modest means not freeze in the winter, the federal government spends a modest amount on a Low-Income Energy Assistance Program. The Trump budget eliminates it.
10. It ends the Rural Economic Development program.
Flouting the economic interests of his political base, Trump proposes ending this job-creation program for rural America.
11. It eliminates funding for vulnerable kids and adults.
The budget includes zero dollars for the Social Services Block Grant, used by states to fund “essential social services” including to “protect children and adults from neglect, abuse and exploitation.”
12. It cuts more from welfare.
The budget for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program – a.k.a. welfare – is cut by $21 billion.
13. It pretends Obamacare is going away.
The budget models a $675 billion cost savings from repealing and replacing Obamacare. After 2017’s pitched battles that wounded, but did not eliminate the Affordable Care Act, even GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to “move on” to other priorities.
14. It slashes the CDC.
What flu epidemic? The Trump budget makes $27 billion in cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over 10 years, building to a 41 percent cut in 2028.
15. It guts Section 8.
At a moment of dire housing need, Trump proposes to knock $47 billion out of the Section 8 housing voucher program that helps hundreds of thousands of Americans keep a roof over their heads.
16. It cuts education but boosts private schools.
The Trump budget slashes the Department of Education by $3.6 billion, but it drums up new funding for a program close to Secretary Besy DeVos’ heart: $1 billion for private school vouchers.
17. It boosts funding to lock up undocumented immigrants.
In keeping with the administration’s dark deportation crusade, the Trump administration seeks $2.5 billion in net funding to build “an average daily detention capacity of 47,000 illegal aliens in facilities across the United States.”