Increased spending on defense and space exploration with the goal of Mars by 2030, and substantial cuts in welfare, foreign aid and the environment; U.S. President Donald Trump’s new budget plan affects his campaign promises to seek reelection in November.
“Our perspective is that we have a trillion-dollar deficit as far as you can see, and we have to address those deficits and those numbers have to come down,” Russell Vought, acting director of the White House Office of Budget Management, said in introducing the proposal.
The budget proposal for fiscal year 2021, which begins in October, totals $4.8 trillion.
The priorities are clear: increase military spending by 0.3% to $740.5 billion while reducing other contributions by 5% to $590 billion.
“We are going to have a very good budget with a very powerful military lineup, because we have no choice. We’re going to do a lot of positive things in between against waste and fraud,” Trump said minutes before details of the plan were unveiled at a White House event.
One of the big beneficiaries is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which sees its budget increase by 12 percent this year, within the goal set by the president to return to the moon and reach Mars by 2030; along with the Department of Veterans Affairs, with a 14 percent increase.
In the rest of the items the order to reduce the expenditure is clear: a cut of 26% in the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency; 9% in the budget of the Health Department and 8% in the Education Department.
One of the most affected is the State Department, which manages a large part of US foreign assistance and sees its budget reduced by 21% to $41 billion, with $4 billion less for the International Development Agency (USAID).
It also targets lower contributions to various social assistance programs by raising the requirements, such as active job search, for accessing benefits such as food stamps, on which more than 40 million Americans depend.
The federal spending plan for fiscal year 2021, which begins in October, also provides $2 billion for the construction of the controversial border fence with Mexico.
This figure is less than the $5 billion requested last year, which Democrats opposed head-on, triggering the closure of the federal government for more than a month.
Despite promising to balance the public accounts, Trump’s budget does not commit to eliminating the large deficit until 2035, and not in ten years as it had previously done.
The U.S. budget deficit shot up 26% in fiscal year 2019 to nearly $1 trillion ($984 billion), the highest in seven years.
The fiscal imbalance as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) is also on a rising trend, rising from 3.8% in 2018 to 4.6% this year.
The macroeconomic projections that accompany the proposal are optimistic, as they assume sustained annual growth of 3% in the coming years, which contrasts with the trend indicated by the latest indicators, which show a slowdown in economic activity.
According to preliminary data, growth in 2019 was 2.3% and by 2020 it is expected to moderate further to 2% per year.
The proposal was immediately rejected by the Democratic opposition.
“Year after year, President Trump’s budgets have sought to inflict devastating cuts on key lifelines that millions of Americans rely on … It shows how little he values the good health, financial security and well-being of hard-working American families,” replied House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
This bill is more of a statement of intent than a real budget plan, as it has little chance of succeeding in a divided Congress, where Republicans control the Senate and Democrats control the House.
This drawing of priorities, however, serves the president to emphasize his political intentions in the face of the campaign for this year’s elections, in which he will seek reelection.