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Trump’s budget blueprint boosts defense spending, cuts billions from domestic programs

February 27, 2017 at 6:50 PM EDT
President Trump outlined a spending plan on Monday to fulfill his campaign promise to dramatically beef up defense spending by 10 percent, and to cut spending by federal agencies by $54 billion. Budget officials said proposals for taxes and programs like Social Security and Medicare will come later. John Yang reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF: More for defense, less for most domestic programs. That’s the message from the White House as it works up a spending blueprint for the coming year.

John Yang begins our coverage, from the White House.

JOHN YANG: Meeting with the nation’s governors today, President Trump outlined a spending plan to fulfill his campaign promise to dramatically beef up the Pentagon.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This budget will be a public safety and national security budget. And it will include an historic increase in defense spending to rebuild the depleted military of the United States of America at a time we most need it.


JOHN YANG: The president wants to hike defense spending 10 percent, to $603 billion, for the budget year beginning October 1. Budget officials said Mr. Trump will also seek increases for law enforcement and first-responders and money for the border wall.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We’re going to do more with less and make the government lean and accountable to the people. We can do so much more with the money we spend. With $20 trillion in debt, can you imagine that? The government must learn to tighten its belt, something families all across the country have had to learn to do, unfortunately.

JOHN YANG: To avoid adding to the deficit, Mr. Trump wants to cut domestic spending by the same $54 billion he wants to boost military spending. Officials said virtually every federal agency will see cuts, along with major reduction in foreign aid.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney:

MICK MULVANEY, White House Budget Director: Yes, it’s a fairly small part of the discretionary budget, but it’s still consistent with what the president said. When you see these reductions, you will be able to tie it back to speech the president gave or something the president has said previously.

JOHN YANG: Budget officials said proposals for taxes and entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare will come later.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.

JOHN YANG: Mr. Trump also talked to the governors and later with top health insurance executives about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We must work together to save Americans from Obamacare. People know that and everyone knows that at this point, to create more competition and to bring down the prices substantially.

JOHN YANG: That was echoed by Republican governors like Rick Snyder of Michigan.

GOV. RICK SNYDER, R-Mich.: This is a time for reform, to broaden the issue from beyond coverage to how do we do better quality, better cost containment for the long term and ultimately it’s about compassion. We’re talking real people here.

JOHN YANG: Democrats, led by National Governors Association Chairman Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, warned that ending Obamacare would create major funding gaps for Medicaid.

GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE, D-Va.: At this point, we have not been provided any information that we want, other than we want everybody to have health care, we want to make accessible and affordable to all. The devil is in the details. I think the rhetoric of the campaign has hit the reality of governing.

JOHN YANG: The president promised his address to Congress tomorrow night would include a big statement on rebuilding the nation’s roads and bridges. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the president would talk about solving real problems for real Americans, like creating jobs and ending urban violence.

In addition to that 10 percent increase for Pentagon spending next year, senior administration officials say that Mr. Trump will ask for $30 billion more for the Pentagon in this budget year. It’s not clear yet how they are going to pay for that — Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: John, that was my question. What are they saying about — $30 billion is not chump change. Where are they going to come up with that?

JOHN YANG: Well, it’s not only that, also in this supplemental appropriations request, they are going to ask for money for that first down payment to start building the border wall with Mexico.

If they don’t want to add to the deficit, which they say they won’t, and also to the national debt, they’re going to have to find offsetting cuts somewhere else because the president says he’s not raising taxes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And just quickly, John, we know there were, as you just reported, concerns among Democratic governors about the changes to Obamacare, but over the weekend, there were concerns expressed by Republicans, too.

JOHN YANG: That’s right. This is one of those complications that the president talked about.

A number of Republicans, Republican governors like John Kasich of Ohio, used Obamacare money to expand Medicaid coverage, Medicaid, the program that takes care of health care for the needy. In Ohio, he added 525,000 uninsured people to the Medicaid rolls.

If the Medicaid goes away, they are going to either have to find the money elsewhere or start pushing people off Medicaid rolls, neither of which is very politically palatable.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, John Yang reporting for us from the White House, thank you.