The president's "skinny" budget still looks to trim lots of fat.
As promised, President Trump issued a budget on Thursday that would largely reshape the federal government and the missions of its agencies.
The proposed $54 billion increase in defense spending is offset with cuts across domestic agencies, with very few being spared significant reductions. Entire agencies are slated for elimination, while dozens of programs are zeroed out. All told, 11 major departments and agencies would see their fiscal 2017 funding -- assuming an annualized amount of the current continuing resolution -- reduced by double-digit percentages. Trump proposed increasing spending at just three Cabinet-level agencies.
Here is our look at the biggest winners and losers in Trump’s blueprint, with budget comparisons to fiscal 2017 levels enacted in the continuing resolution that will expire in April.
Defense Department ($52B, 10 percent increase): As expected, Trump proposed a 10 percent increase in Defense spending. The blueprint would boost the department’s funding by $52 billion, plus an additional $2 billion for other national defense programs. “This increase alone exceeds the entire defense budget of most countries,” the White House said of its proposal, “and would be one of the largest one-year DoD increases in American history.” The funding would go toward fighting ISIS, maintenance and modernization and increasing personnel throughout the military services.
Homeland Security Department ($2.8B, 6.8 percent increase): To support his earlier executive orders, Trump would provide funding for his ramp up of border security. The budget includes “$314 million to recruit, hire and train 500 new Border Patrol Agents and 1,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement law enforcement personnel in 2018, plus associated support staff.” Trump has called for 15,500 new border security and immigration enforcement personnel overall, which officials have said will take several years. The budget would also increase funding for detention and transportation to remove undocumented immigrants by $1.5 billion, and provide $2.6 billion for a wall and other infrastructure along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Veterans Affairs Department ($4.4B, 6 percent increase): Trump talked throughout his campaign about boosting support for VA, and his budget proposed doing just that. It would extend the Choice Program, created in 2014 and currently set to expire in August. VA has 48,000 job vacancies, about three-quarters of which are exempted from Trump’s hiring freeze. Most of the funding would go toward health care, though the White House said it would also ensure timely delivery of benefits.
FBI ($249M, 3 percent increase): Trump and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the administration’s first spending blueprint would focus on security, and the document delivers on that promise. The White House said the increase would allow FBI to support its “world-class cadre of special agents and intelligence analysts,” and expand its fights against terrorism and cyber threats. Elsewhere in the Justice Department, Trump proposed hiring 60 additional border enforcement prosecutors and 40 deputy U.S. Marshals
National Nuclear Security Administration ($1.4B, 11 percent increase): The Energy Department requested a cut overall, though those reductions would focus on grants to states and investments in alternative energy. The funding spike for NNSA would allow the department to develop a “responsive nuclear infrastructure” and support existing warhead life extension programs.
Census Bureau ($100M, 7 percent increase): As the bureau prepares for the 2020 decennial census, Trump proposed boosting its funding to invest in information technology and field infrastructure.
Environmental Protection Agency ($2.6B, 31 percent decrease): Initial budget documents suggested a 25 percent cut to EPA and the final proposal exceeded even that figure. Trump proposed a total overhaul of the agency, calling for the elimination of more than 50 EPA programs. The agency was the only one that had a specific workforce reduction attached to its proposal, calling for 3,200 fewer employees. That would slash one-fifth of the agency’s workers. The White House said the proposal would “ease the burden of unnecessary federal regulations that impose significant costs for workers and consumers without justifiable environmental benefits.” Superfund cleanup, enforcement and compliance, and research and development would be particularly hard hit, in addition to EPA grant programs.
State Department ($10.1B, 28 percent decrease): State and the U.S. Agency for International Development would face significant cuts, especially to foreign aid. Funding for United Nations, Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance and Educational and Cultural Exchange programs would be slashed dramatically. The White House has said other nations around the world should step up their contributions to global efforts and reduce the U.S. burden. The budget calls for $2.2 billion to fund embassy construction and maintenance.
Labor Department: ($2.5B, 21 percent decrease): Labor was a victim of refocusing on rebuilding the military without increasing the deficit, the White House said. This goal requires targeting duplicative, unnecessary and ineffective programs. Several Labor training programs fit the bill.
Agriculture Department ($4.7B, 21 percent decrease): USDA would see spending slashed in the National Forest System and staffing reduced at the department’s Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Rural Development. Those agencies collectively employ about 20,000 workers.
Health and Human Services Department ($15.1B, 17.9 percent decrease): HHS would eliminate training for health professionals and programs aimed at assisting the poor. Trump proposed finding additional savings through reforms to the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Institutes of Health would take a hard hit, seeing its funding cut by $5.8 billion, or 18 percent. (Summary tables at the end of the budget document list HHS' requested fiscal 2018 budget as $61.5 billion as compared to an enacted budget of $77.7 billion for fiscal 2017. That would be a decrease of $12.6 billion, or 16.2 percent, as opposed to the 17.9 percent decrease described earlier in the HHS section of the plan. Government Executive is checking the discrepancy with HHS and will update this story once we have heard back.)
Internal Revenue Service ($239M, 10 percent cut): Relatively speaking, the IRS did not fare among the worst in Trump’s cut-riddled budget. In the larger context, however, IRS has been cut to the bone, seeing its funding already slashed 10 percent since 2010. Additionally, its employees appear to be the target of cuts. In the Treasury Department section of the budget, the White House said its Treasury proposal “shrinks the size of the federal workforce and increases its efficiency.” About 84 percent of the department’s employees work at IRS.
The arts: Trump called for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The reductions are part of larger efforts to “redefine the proper role of the federal government," the White House said.
NEXT STORY: How to Learn New Things as an Adult