Donald Trump has been accused of proposing a budget for the “military industrial complex and the billionaire class”, after the White House released details of a plan that would cut spending on welfare and education while boosting money for the military and a border wall.
The $4.7 trillion (£3.5 trillion) budget proposal, which is all but certain to be rejected by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and once again put the president on a collision course with congress over his demand for a border fence, called for an overhaul of Medicare, Medicaid and other expensive social programmes. Indeed, other than the department of defence, all government departments would see their budgets trimmed by 5 per cent.
Meanwhile, the proposal called for spending on the military to be increased by more than 4 per cent to $750bn, and demanded $8.6bn to build a wall on the border with Mexico.
It was a similar demand – rejected by Democrats – that recently led to a five-week government shutdown after the president refused to agree a spending plan that did not include such a measure. Since then, he has declared a state of emergency at the border, a move condemned by Democrats and some Republicans as well, in order to obtain funding for a wall while circumnavigating congress.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders – in her first briefing for several weeks – claimed the budget built “upon incredible success and keeps his promises to the American people. It continues the president’s pro-job creation policies, keeps taxes low, combats the opioid epidemic, protects our veterans, defends our nation, and secures our borders”.
Russell Vought, the acting White House budget director, told reporters no president had “done more in two years to strengthen our military, restart our economy, and reform our government than president Trump”.
He added: “We are confident that the president’s historic tax reforms, deregulation, trade policy, unleashing American energy will continue our economic growth. Economic policies in this budget will generate more than enough revenue to pay for the cost of the tax cut.”
Yet critics blasted it was worthless. Democrats said it was “dead in the water” even before it reached the House.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who recently announced he was seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Mr Trump for the presidency in 2020, said the president was “proposing an $861bn increase in base defence spending over a 10 year period” at a time when the country already spends more on the military than the next 10 countries combined.
“He proposes to pay for it by cutting over $1 trillion from education, affordable housing, nutrition assistance and the needs of working families,” he said.
“This is a budget for the military industrial complex, for corporate CEOs, for Wall Street and for the billionaire class. It is dead on arrival.”
Senator Patrick Leahy, another senior Democrat said the budget was “divorced from reality. It is not worth the paper it is printed on, and it will be rejected by Congress”.
Progressives Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, all congresswomen, said they would vote against the measure as it called for increased spending for the nation’s border agency, which they accused the president of “weaponising”.
“In this country, our diversity is our greatest strength. Immigrants fuel our nation’s economy, enrich our nation’s culture, and enhance our social fabric. Quite simply, we are a better nation because of our immigrants,” they said in a joint statement. “And yet, this administration continues to threaten the dignity and humanity of our immigrant population.”
Reuters said the the Committee for a Responsible Budget said Mr Trump’s budget would add $10.5 trillion to the debt over a decade, and criticised the White House for what it called a “fantasy assumption” of 3 per cent economic growth over that timeframe – higher than the 2 per cent average used by independent forecasters.