Trump Slashes Foreign Aid In ‘Hard Power’ Budget Blueprint

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On Thursday, President Trump proposed a security-focused budget blueprint which contains drastic cuts in spending on the arts, science, foreign aid and environmental protection. The budget might struggle to pass Congress.

During his presidential campaign, Trump proposed scrapping dozens of programs like public broadcasting and climate funding while boosting Pentagon spending.

Trump described the spending proposal as “a budget that puts America first,” and that makes safety and security the number one priority because without safety, there can be no prosperity.”

The State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency’s funding will be reduced by around a third, making them the biggest losers. Foreign aid and funding to UN agencies will also be reduced.

The National Institutes of Health, which is a biomedical research facility, will have its funding cut by almost $6 billion. While the national endowments for the arts and humanities will be entirely scrapped.

Mick Mulvaney, White House budget Chief and former congressman said: “This is a hard-power budget, it is not a soft-power budget.” He added that he sifted through Trump’s campaign speeches for inspiration.

If Trump’s proposed spending priorities go through, The Pentagon’s budget would get a 10% increase, making the defense budget bigger than that of the next seven nations combined.

Despite Trump repeatedly claiming that Mexico will pay for the wall along America’s border, around $4 billion will be allocated this year and the next for building the wall. According to estimates by consulting firm Bernstein Research the wall will cost at least $15 billion.

Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, said he would willingly accept Trump’s challenge to tighten the budget.

The budget will be heavily revised and amended by Congress, before being released around May.

Keeping campaign promises:

The plan is as much a political statement as a fiscal outline, it’s a signal to Trump’s supporters that he is a “man of action” and not a “typical politician.”

Trump is surrounded by many controversies including his Twitter outbursts, Russian meddling in the election that brought him to power, and a simmering rift with Congressional Republicans over health care reform, so with this budget, he’s trying to rally his base.

At the moment, Trump has approval ratings of 40% which is low for any modern president weeks into his tenure. However, security has been a major vote winner, 51% of Republicans believe the United States will be safer from terrorism at the end of his term, according to an Economist/YouGov poll

The new budget means that the United States will be less engaged internationally and will put “America first.”

Less spending on areas like democracy promotion and humanitarian aid will spell more trouble, and military spending, down the road, as per some diplomats and former defense officials. More than 120 retired generals and admirals recently sent a letter warning “that many of the crises our nation faces do not have military solutions alone.”

Current defense secretary, Jim Mattis’ words were quoted in the letter, he said “if you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.”

Severe cuts:

In keeping with Trump’s promise to gut regulation, the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, which helps monitor air, water and other standards, would also undergo significant cuts.

Trump went to the home of the American auto industry, Detroit on Wednesday, and declared that he would stop targets to limit future vehicle emissions.

Previously, Steve Bannon, Trump’s top advisor, had promised a larger “deconstruction of the administrative state.”

However, Democratic lawmakers are very critical of Trump’s plan. Kentucky representative John Yarmuth, said “It will prescribe drastic cuts in many of the programs and agencies that keep America safe, whether it’s environmental programs, whether it is food safety, drug safety.”