WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump’s $4.8 trillion budget plan for the coming fiscal year drew a prompt rejection yesterday from congressional Democrats, who said it betrayed his promise to protect popular health and safety-net programmes.
The White House is expected to unveil the budget blueprint for the fiscal year starting on October 1 at 12.30pm eastern time, but administration officials confirmed key figures from the document over the weekend.
The budget would fund the Republican president’s top priorities, including construction of a wall on the US border with Mexico, while cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from safety net programmes under the banner of welfare reform.
The budget is largely a political document that serves as a starting point for negotiations with Congress, and Trump’s efforts to impose steep cuts on environmental, housing and other programmes have been rejected by legislators in past years.
Democrats said his latest proposal upended his promise in last week’s State of the Union speech to “always protect” the popular Social Security pension plan and the Medicare health plan for seniors.
“Everyone knows the latest Trump budget is dead on arrival in Congress,” Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee, said in a statement. “It’s merely a political stunt to gratify extremists in his party.”
Trump’s budget would reduce Medicare spending by lowering drug costs and nearly halve Social Security’s disability programme by tightening eligibility requirements.
It also would cut $292 billion from food stamps and the Medicaid health plan for the poor by enacting new work requirements for beneficiaries.
An administration official said the White House proposed the cuts despite an assumption that Congress, which controls US purse strings, would allocate more money on spending than Trump wants.