Trump budget cuts environment and foreign aid spending

US president’s ‘hard-power budget’ would increase defence spending by $52bn

President Donald Trump: his budget  faces little chance of being passed by Congress in its current form. Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times

President Donald Trump: his budget faces little chance of being passed by Congress in its current form. Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times

 

The Trump administration has unveiled a “hard-power budget” plan that would slash spending on the environment, diplomacy and foreign aid to fund increases in military spending and the president’s proposed wall along the border with Mexico.

Donald Trump’s budget, unveiled on Thursday, includes cuts of about 30 per cent to the state department and Environmental Protection Agency and a 9 per cent boost for the Pentagon.

It faces little chance of being passed by Congress in its current form and lawmakers are under no obligation to consider it. But it represents the first blueprint of White House priorities and a wish list for how it would finance them.

The proposal has already been criticised by Democrats and some Republicans for weakening “soft power” institutions that burnish the US image abroad through diplomacy and aid.

Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, has suggested that a Bill with such significant cuts to state department spending would struggle to pass in Congress. Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina, has previously warned that such cuts would make the US less safe, predicting Mr Trump’s proposal would be “dead on arrival” in Congress.

Safety

The budget would increase defence spending by $52.3 billion (€48.5 billion) while taking the axe to bodies ranging from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to the Agency for International Development.

“A budget that puts #AmericaFirst must make safety its no. 1 priority – without safety there can be no prosperity,” Mr Trump tweeted.

Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, said: “There is no question that this is a hard-power budget; it is not a soft-power budget. The president very clearly wants to send a message to our allies and our potential adversaries that this is a strong power administration.”

Opposition was firmest among Democrats, cultural groups and aid bodies, with senator Bernie Sanders dubbing it “morally obscene”. The International Rescue Committee called the proposed cuts to foreign aid spending “counterproductive, misguided and dangerous”.

Budget shortfalls

The White House said it needed the increase in the Pentagon’s funding to implement its campaign to defeat Islamic State and “address critical budget shortfalls” for military personnel. The increase would be the biggest since the height of the Iraq and Afghan wars a decade ago.

On homeland security, Mr Trump has set aside another 7 per cent, including $1.4 billion (€1.3 billion) for the first phase of construction for his proposed wall on the US-Mexico border.

Mr Mulvaney said the White House had crafted the budget “using the president’s own words” from his campaign speeches. “We turned those policies into numbers,” he said.

– (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017)