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What Trump’s proposed 2021 budget says about his policy priorities

President Trump unveiled a $4.8 trillion budget proposal for the 2021 fiscal year on Monday. His plan includes cuts to Medicaid and other social safety net programs, as well as an increase in funding for the Department of Homeland Security. Yamiche Alcindor joins Amna Nawaz to discuss how the president’s “wish list” illustrates his continued commitment to a hardline stance on immigration policy.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    We turn now to the fiscal year 2021 budget.

    President Trump unveiled his $4.8 trillion wish list today, which includes cuts to Medicaid and other social safety net programs.

    Our Yamiche Alcindor joins me now to break it down.

    Yamiche, we should remind people this is the president's proposed budget, right? Congress still has to approve it.

    But you have been going through the budget. Walk me through some of the highlights and also where you see some potential areas of contention with Democrats.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, the White House budget is really a way for the president to set forth his ideas. This is a wish list, saying that, if the president could wave a wand, that this is what he would want to do.

    But we have to remind viewers that presidential budgets do not get passed as is by Congress. That's with President Trump or with President Obama or with any president.

    That being said, let's walk through just some of the things that president wants to do.

    So, there's $4.8 trillion in this budget. The president wants to make $2 trillion in cuts to eliminate entitlements and social safety net programs over the next 10 years. That includes food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security disability benefit programs.

    The other thing, it doesn't eliminate the deficit in the next 10 years. Now, it's important to note that the president has said, when he was getting — when he was elected, that he would balance the budget in eight years. This budget does not do that. Instead, it does it in 15 years.

    Also, the Congressional Budget Office said that, if things remain the way that they are, and nothing changes, that we will be up to $1 trillion annually in adding to the deficit.

    There used to be really big fights about the deficit. But President Trump has been a president who has at times added to the deficit, including during his big tax cut issues.

    The other thing to note, that the president has said over and over again he doesn't want to cut social safety net programs. The White House is saying that these aren't cuts, that they're savings.

    But when you look at the numbers, there are absolutely some cuts to social safety net programs. They're saying that this is about helping able-bodied Americans get off the cycle of dependency. Critics of the president say that this is really them stereotyping people who are on programs that are — that are needed for them and these are entitlement programs that help people's lives.

    But the president and the White House are still sticking by these numbers, saying that they are necessary savings in order to help the government function in a more efficient way.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Yamiche, I'm thinking back to previous clashes between the president and Democrats over previous funding requests he's made, specifically around immigration.

    You have covered some of those clashes before. What does this budget have in the way of immigration requests?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, immigration is the president's signature issue.

    And here, we, of course, saw a little over a year ago the government shut down for about three weeks over issues with the president's budget. In that point, it was an argument over the border wall.

    So, let's walk through just a bit of what's going on, on immigration. We have — you have $52 billion for the Department of Homeland Security. That's a 3 percent increase from 2020 levels approved by Congress. We also have $2 billion they're asking for the border wall.

    This would go toward building 82 miles of wall between the United States and Mexico. Also, the president is asking for 4,600 new immigration and custom enforcement officers and 60,000 total ICE detention beds. That's about 15,000 more beds than Congress approved last year.

    This is important, because ICE specifically has had a lot of criticism, because a number of people have been detained. They have been hitting record highs when it comes to those detention beds.

    The other thing to note, of course, the president has made this a critical part of his 2020 campaign. So, even if this isn't going to be enacted, what we see is, the White House is saying, we're going to continue with those hard-line immigration policies.

    The president's going to continue to say that we need more officers, more law enforcement in order to stop undocumented immigrants from coming into this country, or from also deporting as many undocumented immigrants as the Trump administration can.

    So, that's what this budget says going forward. And the president will continue to double down on those issues.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And you will continue to cover it all.

    That is our White House correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor. Thanks, Yamiche.

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