Yesterday, President Donald Trump unveiled his proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. His $4.1 trillion budget purports to balance the federal budget within a decade through a combination of deep program cuts and forecasted economic conditions.
Congress sets the federal budget, so the President’s proposal isn’t set in stone. In fact, there is already speculation on all sides of the political spectrum that the Trump budget proposal is “dead on arrival,” according to NBC News.
That’s not entirely uncommon: Any president’s budget bill is more of a statement of priorities rather than legislation, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) pointed out to NBC News. However, that doesn’t mean that some of Trump’s ideas won’t make it into the final version of the Congressional budget bill.
As expected, the Washington elite are rushing to weigh in on the Trump budget proposal. Here’s what some of them are saying.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, (D-Mass.)
Elizabeth Warren took to Twitter, posting a video slamming the Trump budget. She called out his campaign promise not to touch Social Security and pointed out that his budget calls for $73 billion in cuts to the program over the next 10 years.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) May 23, 2017
Warren points out that one in three young workers in America today are likely to need Social Security at some point in their working lives. She added that older Americans rely on the Social Security program for a little extra help, too — 70 percent of people who get disability insurance from Social Security are in their 50s and 60s.
Warren vowed to fight back, saying in the video, “We don’t break our promises to seniors. We don’t break our promises to our friends, our neighbors … That cannot happen on our watch. We fight back.”
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)
House Speaker Paul Ryan, on the other hand, told a Fox News program that “the aspiration and the goal is right on the target.”
He called the Trump budget proposal the beginning of the process and insisted that the President has the right priorities.
Ryan also praised President Trump’s efforts to balance the budget with this proposal: “We never had that with Obama. He never even tried to balance the budget, let alone even propose to balance the budget … So, what I see is a president keeping his promises.”
The idea of a balanced budget has been one floating around Washington for several years. Many deficit hawks, including Speaker Ryan, consider it a high priority and have repeatedly called for greater efforts to balance the budget.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
Well-known socialist Senator Bernie Sanders, along with Democratic leaders in Congress, offered a critique of the Trump budget proposal that was broadcast on PBS News Hour.
Sanders called the budget “immoral,” claiming it transferred wealth from the working class to the wealthy elite.
He specifically took aim at the higher education cuts and plans for student loans, saying, “If you are a working class student trying to figure out how you could possibly afford college, your dream of a college education will evaporate because of major cuts to student financial assistance programs.”
Schumer addressed the impact the Trump budget proposal would have on everyone but the wealthy: “The Trump budget takes a sledgehammer to the middle class and to working class Americans, lavishes tax breaks on the wealthy, and imagines all of the deficit problems away with fantasy math.”
He listed cuts and insisted that almost everyone would see their dreams turn to nightmares under the budget. “The great irony of the Trump agenda is that it hurts many of the people who supported him in the campaign,” Schumer said.
House Minority Leader Pelosi continued the theme of broken promises to working families and focused on employment. She quoted Trump’s promise to create jobs for Americans before saying, “His budget steals hundreds of billions of dollars from critical job-creating investments in infrastructure, education, and clean energy.”
She also took aim at the budget proposal that cuts one-fifth of the budget to the National Institutes of Health, as well as talked about cuts to Social Security disability insurance and Medicaid.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
Republican Senator John McCain discussed his problems with the Trump budget proposal, issuing a statement about the specifics.
He notably called parts of the budget proposal “illegal under current law,” and focused on the idea that the $603 billion defense budget request is “inadequate to the challenges we face.”
Instead, McCain called for more military spending. “Congress must act not only to ensure adequate short-term funding for our nation’s armed forces, but also to provide a long-term solution to sequestration. Our military deserves nothing less.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D)
Former Secretary of State and former Senator Hillary Clinton also weighed in on the Trump budget proposal. Speaking at the Children’s Health Fund Annual Benefit, Clinton called the budget an “onslaught” against children, women, and seniors.
She listed the ways the budget cuts help for lower-income children in health insurance, the SNAP program, and disability programs. Her remarks blasted the Trump budget for its “unimaginable level of cruelty and lack of imagination and disdain for the struggles of millions of Americans.”
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho)
Rather than take a firm stand on the Trump budget proposal, Grassley adopted a cautious stance. “As a member of the Budget Committee, I’ll carefully scrutinize and assess priorities as the president has with his proposal,” Grassley said, according to the Washington Post.
He also pointed out that most presidents see their budgets changed substantially once Congress goes to work on them.
Other Republicans took a more forward approach. As reported by the Washington Post, Labrador pointed to the coming budget battle on Democrats. “The left is not going to let [Trump] decrease nondefense discretionary to the extent that he wants to. We’re going to have to find a different way to balance the budget.”
How has the White House defended the budget proposal?
In a press briefing, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said, “I think for years and years we’ve simply looked at a budget in terms of the folks who are on the back end of the programs, the recipients of the taxpayer money, and we haven’t spent nearly enough time focusing our attention on the people who pay the taxes.”
Mulvaney stressed the balanced budget aspect of Trump’s proposal and emphasized the importance of debt reduction. “It begins to reduce the size of debt relative to the size of the economy in year one, okay?” he said. “That’s how important it was and is to this President to try and bring some fiscal discipline.”
He also defended the three percent annual economic growth projections in the budget, insisting that the measures in the budget, along with coming tax cuts, would boost the economy. He also focused on the school choice and parental leave parts of the budget, turning the focus to education and family issues.
You can watch Mulvaney’s testimony on the fiscal year 2018 budget on C-SPAN.
For now, the Trump budget proposal is just that — a proposal. Much of it will likely change as it moves through Congress. However, if there are aspects of the budget that you particularly like or dislike, contact your Congressional representatives and let them know where you stand.
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