WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump unveiled a $4.7 trillion budget proposal Monday that included sweeping cuts to programs such as one to clean up the Great Lakes even as it increased military spending by 5 percent and included $8.6 billion for the next stage of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump’s budget claims it would balance the budget within 15 years. But independent budget analysts such as the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget sharply rejected that claim, saying his plans will add at least $7.8 trillion to the publicly held debt during the next decade.
The budget, which would cover the federal fiscal year that begins in October, would slash $2.7 trillion in nondefense spending during the next 10 years.
Although Trump wants Congress to approve an additional $8.6 billion to continue construction of a barrier along the Mexican border as well as $330 million for the Justice Department to combat the spread of opioids, the administration wants to cut the money for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from $300 million this year to just $30 million next year.
Last year, the Trump administration wanted to remove all money for Great Lakes cleanup only to have a coalition of lawmakers from both parties restore the $300 million.
“For the past few years, no matter whether it was a Republican or Democratic-led administration, there have been attempts to cut or eliminate funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative," said U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. "And every year, we have successfully defeated those efforts and ensured that this critical program receives full funding."
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Trump “is asking Ohioans to pay for tax cuts for millionaires by gutting Great Lakes programs and eliminating economic development efforts.”
The budget does not include any money for an additional anti-missile defense site, although it calls for continued work at a locale in Alaska. Ohio officials are lobbying the Trump administration to select Camp Garfield in Portage County for a new site, although some analysts said there is no reason to ask Congress for money until the Pentagon picks a location.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, said he was "extremely disappointed" the budget "says nothing about the establishment of the East Coast missile defense site where Camp Garfield in Ravenna remains one of the three final sites being evaluated for the project."
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, said, “The Trump budget would devastate our environment, especially our Great Lakes Region, through a 90 percent cut to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and significant reductions to the Departments of Energy, Interior, the Army Corps of Engineers, and Environmental Protection Agency."
Though the proposal is simply as described — a proposal — it offers the best indication of what Trump will push for in the coming year. Many of the less-controversial items will likely end up in the appropriations bills passed by Congress. But in a year when Trump faces a Democratic-led House for the first time in his presidency, the controversial items will likely provoke bitter fights.
"The president's budget request, like all presidents' requests, is just that — a request — and really is an exercise in futility," said U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington. "Historically, Congress has crafted its own budget without using the president's blueprint, and I have no reason to believe that this year will be any different."
For example, there is no chance that Congress will approve the administration’s request to scrap the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, and offer states money to design their own subsidized individual insurance plans for middle-income people.
In addition, House Democrats are certain to reject the administration’s call to transform Medicaid, which provides health coverage for low-income people, into block grants for the states.
“Instead of investing in Medicare and Medicaid, affordable housing, workforce development, education, and a whole host of other programs, his $4.7 trillion proposal does the exact opposite,” said U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Jefferson Township. “Worse still, the president’s budget will explode the national deficit and has absolutely no chance of passing the House and Senate.”
Trump's plan comes roughly a month after an impasse between Congress and the White House sharp enough to cause the longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history.
Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought said the proposed cuts were spurred by soaring deficits, saying “we have a real problem that is not the result of our economic policies.”
He said the budget “will have more reductions in spending than any president in history has ever proposed in concert with our first two budgets,” dismissing the notion that Trump’s tax cuts had contributed to the deficits — despite reports to the contrary.
In all, it would include $718 billion for defense, including funding for the largest pay increase in a decade for the military as well as the creation of the United States Space Force. While discretionary nonmilitary spending was set for a 5 percent across-the-board decrease, defense would see a 5 percent increase.
In addition to money to build the wall, Trump wants $506 million to hire more than 2,800 law enforcement officers and staff for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Trump also proposed a federal tax credit of up to $50 billion for school choice over 10 years and $327 billion for welfare reform over the next decade, including even more stringent work requirements. He said the proposal would make the Trump tax cuts permanent.
Critics charged that the budget assumes optimistic levels of economic growth to bring the debt under control.
Jessica Wehrman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @jessicawehrman. Jack Torry can be reached at email@example.com. On Twitter: @jacktorry1.