Republicans voice opposition to Trump’s budget: ‘Dead on arrival’

The presidents plan to reduce spending ran into some conservative opposition, in addition to criticism from Democrats, for cuts to Medicaid and other programs

Donald Trumps proposal to reduce spending by $3.6tn, mostly by slashing antipoverty programs that provide social safety nets for the poor, ran into bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill, where a number of Republican lawmakers rejected the cuts as draconian and nonstarters.

The presidents plan recommends $616bn in cuts to Medicaid, the government insurance programme for the poorest and many disabled Americans, while increasing border security spending by $2.6bn including $1.6bn to begin construction on a wall along the US-Mexico border.

While fiscal conservatives welcomed the proposal, which aims to balance the budget by 2027, Republicans raised concerns that the plan would slice too deeply into programs that provide poor Americans access to healthcare, food stamps and student loans, setting the stage for a showdown over budget priorities.

The cuts are draconian, Kentucky representative Harold Rogers, a powerful member of the House Appropriations Committee, said of the proposed cuts to Medicaid.

Representative Mark Meadows, the chairman of the arch-conservative Freedom Caucus, praised the budget as conservative and said the White House presented a plan that fundamentally could be implemented. Though Meadows said he was encouraged by budget reductions to welfare programs, he could not get behind stripping funding from Meals on Wheels, a program that provides meal assistance for senior citizens that the presidents budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, dismissed in March as just not showing any results.

Arizona senator John McCain called the proposal dead on arrival in a statement, and knocked the $603m defense budget request inadequate to the challenges we face.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell told reporters, The presidents budget, as we all know, is a recommendation. Well be taking into account what the president is recommending but it will not be determinative in every respect.

Trumps package of spending cuts and tax breaks assumes an economic growth rate of 3%, which many analysts have dismissed as improbable. The Congressional Budget Office forecast under current policy is 1.9%.

Presidential budgets are wish lists the White House sends to Congress. There was never a chance it would pass through untouched.

Clearly Congress will take that budget, and then work on our own budget, which is the case every single year, but at least we now have common objectives, House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters.

Rather than criticize the budget, the Wisconsin conservative sought to paint a rosier picture, insisting that there were elements of the proposal that all Republicans could get behind.

Heres what Im happy about we finally have a president whos willing to actually balance the budget, Ryan said. The last president never proposed, let alone tried, to balance the budget.

Democrats were fiercely critical of the plan, which they said would hit hardest the people who helped elevate Trump to the White House.

The Trump budget exists somewhere over the rainbow, where the dreams of Mick Mulvaney, Paul Ryan and the Koch brothers really do come true, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer told reporters. Of course, these dreams are a nightmare for the average working American.

Senator Bernie Sanders recalled Trumps campaign promises, saying: Sadly, this budget exposes all of that verbiage for what it really was just cheap and dishonest campaign rhetoric that was meant to get votes. Nothing more than that, the Vermont Independent said.

Asked if there was any element of the budget that Democrats could cooperate on, Sanders conceded that the $25bn proposal to provide six weeks of paid leave for mothers and fathers after the birth or adoption of a child is a good start if inadequate.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/23/republicans-opposition-trump-budget-medicaid-spending