Trump’s Budget Will Focus on National Debt, Not the Annual Deficit

Chief executive hopes to cut $3 trillion with ideas such as privatizing International Space Station, reducing National Public Radio spending

by Jim Stinson | Updated 12 Feb 2018 at 4:57 PM

President Donald Trump wants to outsource management of the International Space Station to private companies, and he wants to spend $1.5 trillion, along with state and local governments, on rebuilding and upgrading the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

The president’s 10-year budget proposal, released Monday, will also focus on reducing the $20 trillion national debt, not the federal government’s mounting annual deficits.

Trump’s budget blueprint was released as the president convened a White House meeting on his infrastructure proposal. While the infrastructure program was the centerpiece of his 2019 budget, the package has key changes from current policy.

For one, Trump would like a 2.6 percent pay raise for U.S. troops, and he wants to expand the fighting force by more than 16,000 people. Trump also wants about $686 billion for the Pentagon, according to the Military Times.

Trump further wants to cut social programs to help drive down the debt, but he will not focus on short-term tactics, such as slashing the deficit. In fact, the 2019 deficit will approach $1 trillion.

The budget won’t be balanced during the next decade.

It should not be too surprising. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) tried to map a way out of the debt in 2011, but his plan was derided by Democrats as too tough on entitlements such as Social Security and Medicaid. Trump’s budget does not take on entitlements.

Over 10 years, Trump’s other priorities are funded, big time. Trump asks for $23 billion for border security, including $18 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. And Trump makes an opening bid on infrastructure such as roads, bridges and airports. Trump is asking for $200 billion in federal funds to spur at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments with partners at the state, local and private level.

Part of the federal government’s efforts to fund such expensive projects will be to offer loans to local governments. The seed money is part of a theory that each federal dollar will generate up to $14 dollars in matching spending by local governments.

On defense, Trump's budget should make the military happy. The budget proposal comes just a week after Congress approved a two-year spending fix that will increase domestic and military spending by $300 billion. A new budget would override those laws, but presidents' budgets tend to fail in Congress.

Money-saving ideas in the budget include cutting PBS funding and privatizing U.S. operations at the International Space Station. The long-term savings would cut $3 trillion from the default 10-year plan.

But such ideas usually get killed in Congress.

Last year, Trump's famous "skinny budget" was met with outrage from the media and with criticism even from some Republicans in Congress. That 2018 budget, unveiled by Office and Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney in March 2017, also caused a national debate for days on spending for vulnerable populations such as the elderly. The press laid in wait with questions about Meals on Wheels, the delivered-meals program for the elderly.

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) attacked Trump’s "skinny budget" as "draconian, careless and counterproductive."

Conservatives are on the attack against both the president and congressional leaders.

But now, after the spending fix last week, conservatives are on the attack against both the president and congressional leaders. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), founder of the House Freedom Caucus, wouldn't guarantee he would not seek an ouster of Ryan.

And former congressman David McIntosh, president of Club for Growth, told Fox Business Network the Republicans' spending fix, made to avert a shutdown, spends too much.

"GOP in Congress need to restore fiscal sanity by cutting spending — not spend more!" McIntosh tweeted. "McConnell-Schumer budget deal is a BAD deal for American taxpayers and a bad break for GOP in midterm elections."

PoliZette White House writer Jim Stinson can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

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