Stefanik opposes Trump on budget

PHOTOGRAPHER:
Rep. Elise Stefanik

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s new $1.15 trillion budget would reshape America’s government with the broad, conservative strokes he promised as a candidate, ordering generous increases for the military, slashing domestic programs and riling both fellow Republicans and Democrats by going after favored programs.

Among Republicans questioning his budget is Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, whose 21st District includes Fulton and Hamilton counties.

“While there are savings to be found in every federal agency, I do not support the president’s initial budget proposal, especially the proposed cuts to the State Department, the Department of Education, and the EPA,” Stefanik said in a press release. “Furthermore, the president’s budget would cut many important individual programs to our district.

“Modernization and reform of our federal agencies is needed, which is why I support eliminating duplicative government programs, fraud and abuse. The President’s budget proposal is the first step in the process, but ultimately Congress controls the power of the purse and will write the final federal spending plan. During the budgeting process, I will work hard to ensure the needs and priorities of our district are met.”

The president’s initial budget proposal, submitted to Congress on Thursday, would boost defense spending by $54 billion, the largest increase since Ronald Reagan’s military buildup of the 1980s. That means deep cuts elsewhere — the environment, agriculture, the arts — but Trump said that’s imperative to take on the Islamic State group and others in a dangerous world.

“To keep Americans safe, we have made the tough choices that have been put off for too long,” he declared in a statement titled “America First” that accompanied the budget.

Or, as Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said, “This is a hard power budget, not a soft power budget.”

It’s not entirely in line with Trump’s campaign pledges.

It would make a big down payment on the U.S.-Mexico border wall, which Trump repeatedly promised the Mexicans would pay for. American taxpayers will, at least for now. Thursday’s proposal calls for an immediate $1.4 billion infusion with an additional $2.6 billion planned for the 2018 budget year starting Oct. 1.

Parts of Trump’s spending plan for the next fiscal year angered both congressional Democrats and Republicans who will have the final say on it.

While it targets Democratic priorities like housing, community development and the environment, it also would slash GOP sacred cows like aid to rural schools and subsidized airline service to Trump strongholds, and it would raise fees on participants in the federal flood insurance program.

The budget pursues frequent targets of the GOP’s staunchest conservatives, eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts, legal aid for the poor, low-income heating assistance and the AmeriCorps national service program established by President Bill Clinton.

But Midwestern Republicans including Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio were upset by cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Southern Republicans like Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky lashed out at cuts he called “draconian, careless and counterproductive.”

One target of the budget is the Appalachian Regional Commission, which helps communities in the region.

Trump’s proposal covers only roughly one-fourth of the approximately $4 trillion total federal budget. This is the discretionary portion that Congress passes each year, not addressing taxes, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Nor does it make predictions about deficits and the economy.

By Chad Fleck

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