US President Donald Trump is aiming to sharply increase military spending in his first budget for the upcoming fiscal year. It will feature major cuts to several agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, but none to entitlement programmes such as social security and Medicare, officials said.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday (26 February) that Trump would present some elements of his plan during a major policy speech in a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night (28 February). The president plans to cut taxes for the middle class, make American companies more globally competitive and simplify the tax system, Reuters reported.
Mnuchin confirmed on Fox News' Sunday Morning Futures programme that the budget would not seek cuts to the entitlement programmes. "We are not touching those now. So don't expect to see that as part of this budget, OK?" Mnuchin said, according to a transcript provided by Fix. "We are very focused on other aspects and that's what's very important to us. And that's the president's priority."
Trump will ask for a budget that includes cuts worth tens of billions of dollars to the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department, four senior administration officials told the New York Times. Safety-net programmes such as food stamps will also see sharp cuts. Meanwhile, he will also ask to raise military spending at the Department of Defence.
According to the Times, lawmakers from both parties will have to agree to raise or end statutory spending caps in defence and domestic programmes enacted by the 2011 Budget Control Act in order to meet Trump's request for the Defense Department.
The president's speech to Congress will aim to prove how serious he is about fulfilling his campaign promises on the economy and the budget. "They might not agree with everything you do, but people will respect you for doing what you said you were going to do," Jason Miller, a former communications strategist with Trump's campaign, told the Times.
"He's doing something first, and there's time for talk later," Miller added. "This is ultimately how he's going to get people who didn't vote, or people who didn't vote for him, into the fold."
Trump has spent the first 40 days of his administration largely focused on signing executive orders on immigration and deregulation. His budget plan will very likely be altered by Congressional Republicans while being severely opposed by Democrats.