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Trump proposes a massive $54 billion increase in US military spending

The result is that Trump’s initial budget wouldn’t dent budget deficits projected to run about $500 billion.

Image: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

THE WHITE HOUSE says President Donald Trump’s upcoming budget will propose a whopping $54 billion increase in defence spending and impose corresponding cuts to domestic programs and foreign aid.

The result is that Trump’s initial budget wouldn’t dent budget deficits projected to run about $500 billion.

White House budget officials outlined the information during a telephone call with reporters given on condition of anonymity. The budget officials on the call ignored requests to put the briefing on the record, though Trump on Friday decried the use of anonymous sources by the media.

Trump’s defence budget and spending levels for domestic agency operating budgets will be revealed in a partial submission to Congress next month, with proposals on taxes and other programs coming later.

The increase of about 10% for the Pentagon would fulfill a Trump campaign promise to build up the military. The senior budget official said there will be a large reduction in foreign aid and that most domestic agencies will have to absorb cuts. He did not offer details, but the administration is likely to go after longtime Republican targets like the Environmental Protection Agency.

The tentative proposals for the 2018 budget year that begins 1 October are being sent to agencies, which will have a chance to propose changes.

Resistance

In Congress, Democrats and some Republicans are certain to resist the cuts to domestic agencies, and any legislation to implement them would have to overcome a filibuster threat by Senate Democrats. A government shutdown is a real possibility.

“It is clear from this budget blueprint that President Trump fully intends to break his promises to working families by taking a meat ax to programs that benefit the middle class,” said Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer of New York.

“A cut this steep almost certainly means cuts to agencies that protect consumers from Wall Street excess and protect clean air and water.”

The White House says Trump’s budget also won’t make significant changes to Social Security or Medicare.

The president told American governors at the White House on Monday that “we’re going to make it easier for states to invest in infrastructure” and that, overall, “we’re going to do more with less and make the government lean and accountable to the people.”

Trump’s first major fiscal marker is landing in the agencies one day before his first address to a joint meeting of Congress.

For Trump, the prime-time speech is an opportunity to refocus his young presidency on the core economic issues that were a centerpiece of his White House run.

The upcoming submission covers the budget year starting on 1 October. But first there’s a 28 April deadline to finish up spending bills for the ongoing 2017 budget year, which is almost half over. Any stumble or protracted battle there could risk a government shutdown as well.

Read: Sean Spicer’s denials left looking thin as Trump’s choice for top Navy job steps aside

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