Speed Reads

Trump Budget

Trump's budget would ax 19 agencies, cut everything else except Pentagon, DHS, VA budgets

On Thursday, President Trump will send his first budget proposal to Congress, and it's a doozy. Trump seeks to raise the budget for the Defense Department by $54 billion and give more modest boosts to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Homeland Security Department — mostly for building Trump's Mexico border wall and hiring more border agents — and cut everything else. The State Department and Environmental Protection Agency would see the steepest cuts (29 percent and 31 percent, respectively), and the budget would eliminate all funding for 19 federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Corporation for Public Broadcasting (PBS and NPR), the Legal Services Corporation, the Chemical Safety Board, and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The first thing to note is that Congress almost certainly won't enact most of Trump's changes. Congress decides how much the government spends and what it spends it on, and the big hike in defense spending, for example, would require Congress to repeal the 2011 "sequester" cuts, something Democrats won't agree to without an increase in spending on non-defense programs, too. The budget, then, is a blueprint for how Trump wants to change Washington, and The Washington Post has a handy graph showing the outlines of those priorities.

The entire budget for discretionary spending is $1.1 trillion. To pay for a bigger military and Mexico border wall, Trump would not only eliminate the roughly $300 million the U.S. spends on the arts but also federal subsidies for Amtrak's long-distance routes, the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program — used to finance programs like Meals on Wheels and housing assistance — the Energy Star program, and subsidies for rural airports. Trump also proposes privatizing the U.S. air traffic control system.

"There aren't a lot of examples of presidents coming in and saying, 'I'm going to eliminate this program and that program and cut a whole bunch of programs back anywhere from 10 to 30 percent,'" Robert Reischauer, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, tells The Washington Post. "This is quite unusual."