President Donald Trump is preparing a “security budget” that will ramp up spending for the Pentagon while slashing funding for most other federal agencies.
Trump plans to increase defense spending by $54 billion per year, which would be a 10% increase. He’d cut funding for most other agencies by $54 billion to keep his overall budget from adding to the national debt. “Most federal programs will see a reduction,” an official with the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) told reporters on Monday.
Trump has made no secret of his desire to scale back regulatory agencies, especially the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But such agencies tend to have modest budgets compared with the cost of military troops & hardware. The EPA’s entire budget is around $8 billion, for instance. That’s only two-thirds the cost of a single Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, which comes with a price tag of approximately $13 billion.
Defense accounts for approximately 16% of federal spending, yet much of the rest goes toward entitlement spending. Social Security accounts for 24% of the federal budget; Medicare, 15%. Trump has pledged not to cut either of those popular programs, even though their costs are growing. Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, accounts for 9% of spending, and Trump does favor changes in the way those funds obtain spent, which could lead to cutbacks there. Interest payments account for another 6% of spending, which Trump can’t cut. All told, with defense, Social Security, Medicare & interest expenses exempt, Trump would have to find $54 billion in cuts from less than 40% of the budget.
The OMB official said a budget blueprint the White House plans to release in mid-March would contain large cutbacks in foreign aid. “The budget expects the rest of the world to step up in some of the programs America has been so generous in funding,” he said. Total funding for the State Department & the US Agency for International Development totals approximately $50 billion per year. But the amount going to foreign countries in the form of aid is only approximately $26 billion, which is well under 1% of all federal spending. This chart shows where the huge money is in the federal budget, & how that has changed over time:
InsideGov | Graphiq
That might sound like a pot of money that’s effortless to raid—except every penny of aid has ardent supporters in some corner of Washington, DC. The biggest recipient of US foreign aid is Israel, according to a recent analysis by the Washington Post. That aid amounts to more than $3 billion per year. Trump has pledged strong support for Israel to influential, wealthy donors such as Sheldon Adelson, a huge Israel backer. So that $3 billion might be spared from cuts.
Other large recipients of US foreign aid include Egypt (about $1.3 billion), Afghanistan ($1.3 billion), Pakistan ($700 million) & several African countries. While some critics characterize such aid as a giveaway, it often helps ward off Islamic terrorists & other groups hostile to US interests.
Congress appropriates the money that funds the federal budget, of course, not the president, & Trump’s emphasis on security will undoubtedly find some fans among defense hawks on Capitol Hill. But Congress is loath to cut spending on anything, especially domestic agencies that constitute valuable turf for committee chairs in the House & Senate. And that means Trump’s “security budget” will have plenty of critics, too.
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Rick Newman is the author of four books, including Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman
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Source: “Rick Newman”