Trump Budget set to boost defence spending

United States President Donald Trump's Budget team includes Mr Mick Mulvaney (left), director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Treasury Secretary Mr Mnuchin (right).
United States President Donald Trump's Budget team includes Mr Mick Mulvaney (left), director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Treasury Secretary Mr Mnuchin (right).PHOTO: NYTIMES

Big cuts proposed for State Dept, environment agency, say sources

WASHINGTON • United States President Donald Trump is proposing major defence spending increases and big cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), State Department and other federal agencies in a proposed Budget to be presented soon to Congress, said a person familiar with the plan.

The outline of the Budget was expected to be made public yesterday, according to two White House officials, who declined to comment further. Mr Trump is scheduled to make an address to Congress tomorrow morning, Singapore time.

Congress ultimately determines how the federal government's money is spent, and the White House Budget is mostly an opening bid in what could be a protracted process to set a federal spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said Mr Trump's first Budget will not touch entitlement programmes such as social security or Medicare. It will instead focus on ways to produce long-term economic growth by slashing taxes, he said in a Fox News interview on Sunday.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that the Budget will assume economic growth of 2.4 per cent, below the 3 per cent growth Mr Trump has pledged.

Mr Mnuchin said that the administration thinks a combination of tax cuts and regulatory relief will lead to economic growth of 3 per cent or higher. "We're going to make sure this works," he said. "This is all about creating growth."

HUGE MILITARY BUILD-UP

We're also putting in a massive budget request for our beloved military.

We will be substantially upgrading all of our military, all of our military. Offensive. Defensive. Everything. Bigger and better and stronger than ever before. And, hopefully, we'll never have to use it, but nobody is going to mess with us, folks. Nobody.

US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, on his Budget's main thrust - boosting the US military.

A spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, which compiles the document, declined to comment on details but said the outline would not address entitlements or tax changes, which would be included in a fuller budget proposal later in the year.

"The President and his Cabinet are working collaboratively to create a Budget that keeps the President's promises to secure the country and restore fiscal sanity to how we spend American taxpayers' money," the spokesman, Mr John Czwartacki, said in an e-mail.

One national security official said the Budget's main thrust is to boost defence spending, as Mr Trump has repeatedly promised. The President has called the US military, the world's largest, "badly depleted".

"We're also putting in a massive budget request for our beloved military," he said on Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

"We will be substantially upgrading all of our military, all of our military. Offensive. Defensive. Everything. Bigger and better and stronger than ever before. And, hopefully, we'll never have to use it, but nobody is going to mess with us, folks. Nobody."

But the State Department will not share in the largesse. One of the agency's deputy secretary positions, in charge of management and resources, is expected to be eliminated and its staff reassigned, people familiar with the plan said.

Mr Trump is also said to be reviewing eliminating many special envoy positions - diplomatic staff assigned to regions and issues, including climate change, anti-Semitism and Muslim communities.

The EPA, meanwhile, has been a consistent Trump target. He has said it has too many regulations that burden companies and cause long delays for businesses trying to get approvals for new factories.

His pick for EPA administrator, Mr Scott Pruitt, was a long-time foe of the agency as Oklahoma's attorney-general.

Mr Trump is slated to sign documents compelling the EPA to begin undoing recent regulations, including the Clean Power Plan that slashes greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation and the Waters of the US rule that defined which waterways are subject to pollution regulation.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 28, 2017, with the headline 'Trump Budget set to boost defence spending'. Print Edition | Subscribe