On Tuesday May 23, President Trump released his budget request for 2018 entitled “A New Foundation for American Greatness.” His stated initiative with this budget request is to reduce spending and roll-back regulations in order to spur economic growth. Many national safety net programs will be hit hard by these spending cuts.
The budget calls for a 10% increase in defense spending and increases for border security, including $1.6 billion to begin work on the border wall with Mexico. The proposal makes no changes to Social Security or Medicare, the two largest drivers of the federal deficit. To compensate, the budget plan includes deep cuts to entitlement programs and science and medical research.
The budget proposal makes cuts to programs aimed at reducing poverty including a 29% reduction to Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, 19% to Children’s Health Insurance Program, 17% to Medicaid, and 13% to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The National Cancer Institute would see a $1 billion reduction compared to the 2017 budget. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases would see reductions over $500 million. The administration would cut the overall National Institutes of Health budget from $31.5 billion to $26 billion, a 17% reduction. The National Science Foundation, which provides grants for a variety of scientific research, would be trimmed by 11%.
The administration defended these steep reductions as necessary to balance the nation’s budget and reduce waste on programs that do not work well. Mick Mulvaney, White House Budget Director, commented, “We’re not going to measure our success by how much money we spend, but by how many people we actually help.”
The budget proposal in its current form is a long way from being passed by Congress. Democrats have uniformly opposed the budget proposal and Republicans have also been critical of some of the president’s plans. Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said “Based on what we know about this budget, the good news – the only good news – is that it was likely to be roundly rejected by members of both parties here in the Senate, just as the last budget was.”
Even though this budget proposal may not be passed in its current form, it is clear that the administration’s goal is to reduce government spending to science, medical research and entitlement programs. The reduction in federal funding will have a direct impact on our nation’s universities and nonprofits. Those organizations should be prepared for a shift in priorities for the time that President Trump is in office.