Speed Reads

Trumponomics

Trump's budget targets Medicaid, food stamps, farm subsidies, assumes the AHCA becomes law

With President Trump overseas, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney previewed Trump's first full budget proposal on Monday. The $4.1 trillion plan won't be released until Tuesday, but Mulvaney outlined the steep cuts to Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, social services for the low-income and disabled, most federal agencies, farm subsidies, federal pension benefits, college loans, highway funds, medical research, and foreign aid, paired with billions more for the Pentagon, Veterans Affairs Department, and Homeland Security. The proposal also includes $19 billion in new spending to help states provide six weeks of paid leave for new mother and fathers, a priority for Ivanka Trump.

The proposal foresees a balanced budget in 10 years, but that relies on growth of at least 3 percent a year, widely seen as exceedingly optimistic, plus Congress passing the American Health Care Act along lines laid out in the House Republican version. Using more conventional projections, it leaves a gaping hole in the budget. The blueprint does not cut Medicare or the main part of Social Security — though the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program goes under the knife — because Trump promised not to, Mulvaney said, adding that SSDI doesn't count under the promise because for voters, "it's old age retirement that they think of when they think of Social Security," not disability benefits.

For Trump's budget plan to become reality, Congress would have to sign on. That is seen as unlikely, though Congress will probably have to take Trump's priorities into consideration. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has already panned the proposal, calling it "a budget that takes a meat cleaver to the middle class by gutting the programs that help them the most." Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the $866 billion in Medicaid cuts are probably DOA in the Senate. "I just think it's the prerogative of Congress to make those decisions in consultation with the president," he said. "But almost every president's budget proposal that I know of is basically dead on arrival."

Mulvaney will start trying to sell the plan to the House and Senate budget committees on Wednesday and Thursday, and he told reporters he doesn't expect Congress to enact his wish list unchanged. "If Congress has a different way to get to that endpoint, God bless them," he said. Still, "it would be nice to minimize the daylight between us and them on these things."