WASHINGTON — The Trump administration proposed a $4.4 trillion spending plan Monday that projects deficits as far as the eye can see, giving up the longtime Republican goal of a balanced budget to champion a spending plan replete with cash for a host of military programs and some domestic ones the president’s supporters might admire.
The budget calls for about $716 billion in annual defense spending, more than $100 billion above the level Trump requested last year. Add in the tax cut Republicans pushed through in December and the extra spending Congress approved just last week, and the result is a flood of red ink projected to send the national debt ever higher.
Trump’s budget anticipates deficits throughout the next 10 years, even if Congress were to approve some $3 trillion in cuts over that same time period that he’s proposing for a wide range of federal programs. Both parties already rejected most of those cuts last year and have shown little interest in pursuing them.
The budget unveiling led off with the administration’s infrastructure plan, released with a statement from the president promising to build gleaming new roads, bridges and highways “all across our land.”
Despite the bold promise, the plan involves a relatively small amount of new federal spending — $200 billion offset, at least partially, by cuts to other programs. The administration claims the new money would spur some $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments from state, local and private sources, but that would depend to a large degree on the willingness of local and state officials to raise taxes for transportation projects.
“Washington no longer will be a roadblock to progress,” Trump told a group of state and local officials gathered at the White House.
He is also asking for $1.6 billion to build 65 miles of border wall in the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas, just one installment of the massive larger project that helped propel him to the Oval Office. He also proposes pouring more money into immigration enforcement.
But Trump’s plan also defines progress as cutting programs his base voters don’t like, including climate change research programs at the Environmental Protection Agency and the health care law known as Obamacare. His budget would slash almost $700 billion in federal health care spending that helps low- and moderate-income Americans who rely on insurance marketplaces created by the 2010 health care law.
The spending blueprint also outlines nearly $1.5 trillion in cuts over the next decade to Medicaid, the government health plan for the poor. The administration said the sweeping changes reflect a goal to cut regulation and “empower patients and doctors,” but studies suggest that cuts of this magnitude would likely leave tens of millions more Americans without health coverage.