OMB Director Mick Mulvaney is pictured. | AP Photo
The budget policy summary echoes Trump’s campaign promises to invest in infrastructure and overhaul the tax code. | Getty

White House pitches budget as welfare reform

The Trump administration’s budget will suggest taking an ax to safety net programs like food stamps and popular family benefits like the child tax credit.

The Trump administration is billing its budget as a plan to “reform the welfare system” and replace “dependency with dignity of work,” while saving $274 billion over 10 years, according to a four-page memo obtained by POLITICO.

The White House budget, to be released Tuesday, will suggest taking an ax to safety net programs like food stamps and popular family benefits like the child tax credit, in order to achieve the ambitious goal of balancing the federal budget over a decade.

About $193 billion of the estimated savings would come from controversial changes to food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, with tighter work rules for beneficiaries and restrictions limiting benefits to people who are authorized to work in the United States.

Under the proposal, the White House estimates changes to the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit would save $40 billion over 10 years. And changes to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program are expected to save $21 billion over that time.

As anticipated, the budget document will avoid revamping Social Security and Medicare.

“During his presidential campaign, the President promised not to cut Medicare benefits. And it does not,” the administration guidance document states.

The budget, which will be titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” will propose to bring down publicly held debt to 60 percent of GDP by 2027.

President Donald Trump is proposing to “fully reverse” the sequester’s cuts to defense spending to facilitate “a larger, more capable, and more lethal joint force.” Building on the priorities laid out in the so-called skinny budget released earlier this year, a $54 billion investment in defense would be paid for by slashing discretionary spending.

The president’s proposal calls for 56,400 more military service members in 2018 than the end-strength planned by the Obama administration, according to the document. The administration is also requesting 84 fighter aircraft, including 70 Joint Strike Fighters and 14 FA-18 Super Hornets.

The budget policy summary echoes Trump’s campaign promises to invest in infrastructure and overhaul the tax code. The document references “spurring $1 trillion” in infrastructure investment but does not detail the White House’s request for direct spending.

The administration document states that Trump’s tax plan “is not just a tax cut,” explaining that the president is seeking an overhaul “to make our tax system simpler and fairer” by cutting rates and eliminating “loopholes and deductions.” The plan would shrink the current system from seven to three brackets — 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent — and cut the business tax rate to 15 percent.

The White House is also proposing to find savings through “an ambitious effort” to reduce improper payments.

Some agencies would get more money.

For Customs and Border Protection, the Trump administration is calling for $2.6 billion for infrastructure and technology to help the agency “deter, deny, identify, track, and resolve illegal activity along the border.” That request will include $1.6 billion for new and replacement border wall, $239 million for aircraft and other aviation assets, $202 million for equipment and facilities, $197 million for surveillance technology, $111 million for road construction and maintenance along the border, and $109 million for inspection equipment at ports of entry.

The budget will also propose more than $300 million for recruiting and hiring more agents for the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Jennifer Scholtes contributed to this report.

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