After two years of added spending for the Pentagon, President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he would send Congress a budget plan for 2020 which reduces spending for the military by just over two percent, while asking all other agencies to cut their budgets by a minimum of five percent.
“It will probably be $700 billion,” the President said of the military budget, which Congress raised to $700 billion for this year, and $716 billion for 2019.
Bringing the Pentagon back to $700 billion for 2020 would be a cut of $16 billion – just over two percent; other agencies would be expected to cut more deeply, as the President told a Cabinet meeting he wants a five percent reduction at a minimum.
“I’d like you all to come back with a 5-percent cut,” Mr. Trump said. “And I think if you can do more than that, we will be very happy. There are some people sitting at the table – I’m not going to point you out – but there are some people that can really do substantially more than that.”
The $16 billion cut for defense would still have to be approved by Congress; many Republicans might object to the idea, arguing two years of increases were not enough to offset lower levels of spending during the Obama Administration.
No overall budget figures were provided by the White House on how much money would be saved.
The call for Uncle Sam to tighten its belt came two days after the feds reported the highest yearly budget deficit since 2012, as the feds ran a deficit of $779 billion.
White House budget forecasts predict the deficit could top $1 trillion in 2019, and stay there for several years.
The President’s call for budget cuts came as top Republicans in the Congress were making more noise about cuts in entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
Democrats immediately said the President should think about reversing parts of his tax.
“Let’s just recognize we’re doing this to pay for tax cuts for big businesses and the wealthiest Americans,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA).
“Republicans can’t hide what their agenda will be if they keep power: cut Medicare, cut Social Security, and make life even harder on working people,” said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN).
“Republicans rammed through a bill to give huge tax breaks to corporations and the mega-rich, and now they’re using its consequences as an excuse to propose cuts to Medicare and Medicaid,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI). “It’s all part of the GOP fever dream.”