President Donald Trump will propose cutting entitlement programs by $1.7 trillion, including Medicare, in a fiscal 2019 budget that seeks billions of dollars to build a border wall, improve veterans’ healthcare and combat opioid abuse.
The White House budget is likely to be all but ignored by Congress, but does show the Trump administration’s intentions for handling rising federal spending.
The entitlement cuts over a decade are included in a White House summary of the budget obtained by Bloomberg News. The document says that the budget will propose cutting spending on Medicare, the health program for the elderly and disabled, by $237 billion but doesn’t specify other mandatory programs that would face reductions, a category that also includes Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare and agricultural subsidies.
The Medicare cut wouldn’t affect the program’s coverage or benefits, according to the document. The budget will also call for annual 2 percent cuts to non-defense domestic spending beginning “after 2019.’
At a time when the prospect of rising annual budget shortfalls has spooked financial markets, the White House said in a statement—without explanation—that its plan would cut the federal deficit by $3 trillion over 10 years and reduce debt as a percentage of gross domestic product. Yet, in a break from a longstanding Republican goal, the plan won’t balance the budget in 10 years, according to a person familiar with the proposal.
The budget is unlikely to gain traction on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers routinely ignore the spending requests required annually from the executive branch. And Congress passed its own spending bill on Friday, including a two-year budget deal, which the president signed into law.
According to the summary, Trump will urge an increase in defense spending to $716 billion and a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops. He will request $18 billion to build a wall on the Mexican border, the summary indicates.
The White House also seeks $200 billion for the infrastructure proposal the administration plans to unveil alongside the fiscal year 2019 budget, as well as new regulatory cuts.
A year ago, Trump asked lawmakers to cut $3.6 trillion in federal spending over the next 10 years and identified deep cuts to domestic spending programs. Instead, lawmakers last week passed a two-year government funding deal that would boost military and non-defense spending by $300 billion over the next two years and add more than $80 billion in disaster relief.
But administration officials argue their proposals, dead on arrival though they may be, is still an important marker of the president’s legislative priorities.
The administration proposal also includes $13 billion in new funding to combat the opioid epidemic, which Trump has frequently cited as among his top domestic priorities. The administration would provide a $3 billion boost to the Department of Health and Human Services in the next fiscal year, and $10 billion in 2019.
Other elements include $85.5 billion in discretionary funding for veterans health services, education and vocational rehabilitation, the OMB said on Sunday. It is not clear how much of that funding would represent an increase from current spending levels.