President’s Team Eyes Major Spending Cuts

As congressional Republicans head off for a retreat on fiscal priorities for the coming year, the president’s team is reviewing the recommendations from two conservative groups that recommend broad spending cuts and the elimination of programs long targeted by Republicans. In previous statements, Trump has promised to boost defense spending, launch a $1 trillion infrastructure program, improve care for veterans, protect Social Security and Medicare, slash taxes for all income groups, and curb federal red ink. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned in a report last week that the country is on an “unsustainable fiscal path.” Soaring costs for entitlement programs, the aging population, and rising health care costs, combined with increased interest payments will push the federal debt to record levels, the GAO said.

Trump is expected to submit an outline of his fiscal 2018 budget request to Congress in late February, with a completed budget by May. The Heritage Foundation is proposing a repeal of the 2010 health care law, overhaul of Medicare with a cap on federal spending, increases in the retirement age of Social Security, and moving domestic spending to the U.S. Department of Defense. The cuts would eliminate the National Endowment of the Arts and Land and Water Conservation funds and programs at the Environmental Protection Agency. A second proposal from the Republican Study Committee on Capitol Hill would overhaul the tax system and cut more than 200 federal programs. While the House would not need Democratic votes to adopt a streamlined budget as laid out in these proposals, the Senate must garner agreement from a minimum of 60 Senators to bring spending proposals to the floor. Some previous efforts to gut key domestic programs have met moderate Republican opposition in previous sessions of Congress.

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