Trump 2020 budget plan includes funding boost for military and border wall, cuts elsewhere

March 11, 2019

The White House on Monday released President Trump’s $4.7 trillion budget blueprint for 2020, which calls for a boost in military funding next year and cuts for domestic programs, while also including money for initiatives like infrastructure and combating the opioid epidemic.

The budget plan boosts military funding by 5 percent in 2020, to $750 billion, while cutting non-defense discretionary spending by 5 percent.

The budget calls for $2.7 trillion in cuts in the long term and is projected to get to balance in 15 years, by 2034.

“This budget will have more reductions in spending than any president in history has ever proposed, in concert with our first two budgets,” a senior administration official said on a conference call with reporters.

Under the plan, federal deficits would remain above $1 trillion in 2020, 2021, and 2022 before steadily ticking back down to about $200 billion by 2029.

“Every year that we don’t adopt these spending reforms it pushes the window out for when we can achieve balance,” the official said. “We would love to do it faster we need Congress to do it along with us.”

The budget also includes $8.6 billion for construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall well above the $5.7 billion the president had been seeking in 2019 spending legislation.

Most government spending, including mandatory programs such as Medicare and social security, is essentially on autopilot already.

Of the $2.7 trillion in cuts, $1.9 trillion is slated to come from mandatory spending.

White House budget blueprints are frequently ignored by lawmakers on Capitol Hill, though all sides will likely look to the document as an important political statement as the 2020 presidential campaign season kicks into high gear soon.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, who is crafting his own 2020 blueprint, said the president’s proposal is a “first step” in the federal budgeting process.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues and the president to curb federal overspending and help bring our deficits and debt under control,” said Mr. Enzi, Wyoming Republican.

The budget plan assumes a permanent extension of the tax cuts the GOP passed in 2017. Many of the individual benefits are slated to expire after 2025.

It also includes $200 billion for infrastructure investments, which the White House has suggested in the past.

The budget boosts funding for veterans health care by almost 10 percent, to $80 million, and includes a $50 billion school choice tax credit initiative.

On the defense side, the administration is getting around strict budget caps by including $165 billion for the military in 2020 in a special overseas war fund that isn’t subject to the caps, plus an additional $9 billion in emergency money.

Spending on mandatory entitlement programs is also not governed by the caps.

Democrats have dismissed the move as a gimmick, but the administration says the boost for the military is necessary and that they shouldn’t have to accept a comparable spending increase for domestic programs, as has been the case in recent budget deals.

“We are signaling in this budget that the paradigm of a dollar of non-defense increase for every dollar of defense is no longer, [and] hasn’t been for some time, affordable for the country,” the administration official said.

But congressional Democrats said the plan was dead on arrival and that they plan to reject the proposed cuts to domestic programs and the additional money for the wall.

“The use of a massive budgetary gimmick to hide the true cost of his defense spending request should outrage everyone who claims to care about fiscal responsibility,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, New York Democrat.