Budget Chief Defends Spending Cuts, Strong Growth Projections

Desiree Burns
March 14, 2019

Trump introduced his new budget proposal for 2020 of $4.7 billion, which includes, "a dramatic expansion on programs and initiatives with Republicans", such as defense spending and barriers on the border with Mexico, according to the Washington Post.

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, pointed to the budget's call for cuts to scientific research as unsafe to the nation's reputation as a leader in scientific research and innovation.

President Donald Trump proposed slashing Medicare funding by $845 billion over the next decade in a budget blueprint by increasing audits of Medicare Advantage payments, changing hospital reimbursement rates and reducing "fraud and abuse" in the system. Social Security makes up the largest portion at $1.05 trillion.

The proposal comes as the annual budget deficit is projected to exceed $1 trillion this year, in part because of a Republican tax cuts enacted in 2017 and a bipartisan spending spree since Trump took office.

"These cuts in the Trump budget aren't a tightening of the belt or a trimming of the fat, or even a serious attempt at reining in spending", House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said during the hearing.

Growing budget deficits would run contrary to the narrative put forth by the Trump administration that a package of tax cuts that took force past year will pay for themselves through faster economic growth. As Trump's acting budget director said when the budget plan was released, the president is "not cutting Medicare", and "there are no structural changes for Medicare".

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The budget would also require everyone with a plan from the Affordable Care Act exchanges pay some amount of premium. The Trump administration wants to eliminate that differential.

Trump's budget is widely seen as a dead letter on Capitol Hill, where the Democratic-majority House of Representatives will kill it, but Trump's proposals are likely to follow him into his 2020 presidential reelection campaign. "The president's budget is filled with recommendations that would hurt American families, and his half-trillion-dollar cut to Medicare is one of the most egregious". The cost-saving covers some of the mandatory programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, and programs on federal health care.

It estimates about 85 percent of the proposed Medicare cuts come from reductions in provider payments, and an additional 5 percent come from policies that would reduce overall healthcare costs (primarily medical malpractice reform). "But we're also concerned about proposed cuts to programs important to seniors".

The White House budget also includes provisions meant to lower prescription drug spending and allocates $4.8 billion to stem the tide of the opioid epidemic, along with $291 million next year to fight HIV/AIDS.

"At the end of the day, this is a really irresponsible budget in which the president is also breaking promises that he made to the American people", she said, "It's going to undermine critical health care services for millions of Americans".

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