Budgets

Hill Republicans wary of cuts in Trump's 2018 budget plan out Tuesday

Top Republican lawmakers have expressed concerns about the cuts President Trump plans to make for the 2018 budget year, which is due out Tuesday.

The blueprint is certain to include a wave of cuts to benefit programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, federal employee pensions and farm subsidies. The fleshed-out proposal follows up on an unpopular partial release in March that targeted the budgets of domestic agencies and foreign aid for cuts averaging 10 percent -- and made lawmakers in both parties recoil.

The new cuts are unpopular as well.

“We think it's wrongheaded," Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said about the looming cuts to farm programs. "Production agriculture is in the worst slump since the depression -- 50 percent drop in the net income for producers. They need this safety net.”

The House had a bitter debate on health care before a razor-thin 217-213 passage in early May of a GOP health bill that included more than $800 billion in Medicaid cuts over the coming decade. Key Republicans are not interested in another round of cuts to the program.

"I would think that the health care bill is our best policy statement on Medicaid going forward," said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The president’s budget plan promises to balance the federal ledger over the next 10 years, even while exempting Social Security and Medicare retirement benefits from cuts. To achieve balance, the plan by White House budget director Mick Mulvaney relies on optimistic estimates of economic growth, and the surge in revenues that would result, while abandoning Trump's promise of a "massive tax cut."

Instead, the Trump tax plan promises an overhaul that would cut tax rates but rely on erasing tax breaks and economic growth to end up as "revenue neutral."

Trump's earlier blueprint proposed a $54 billion, 10 percent increase for the military above an existing cap on Pentagon spending, financed by an equal cut to nondefense programs.

Trump's full budget submission to Congress is months overdue and follows the release two months ago of an outline for the discretionary portion of the budget, covering  defense, education, foreign aid, housing, and environmental programs, among others. Their budgets pass each year through annual appropriations bills.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.