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Trump wants 10 percent boost in defense budget

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will propose a federal budget that would dramatically increase defense-related spending by $54 billion while cutting other federal agencies by the same amount, according to an administration official.

The proposal represents a massive increase in federal spending related to national security, while other priorities, especially foreign aid, would undergo significant reductions.

According to the White House, the defense budget would increase by 10 percent. Trump will also request $30 billion in supplementary military spending for the fiscal year 2017, according to an administration official.

A large increase in military spending could have a significant impact on New Mexico, home to three Air Force bases and the Army’s White Sands Missile Range.

Without providing any specifics, the administration said that most other discretionary spending programs will be slashed to pay for it. Officials singled out foreign aid, one of the smallest parts of the federal budget, saying it would have “large reductions” in spending.

It is the first indication of spending priorities by the new administration, with the president set to arrive on Capitol Hill tonight for a speech to a joint session of Congress. But the full budget negotiations between Trump and Congress will not be complete for many months.

In a statement at the White House on Monday morning, Trump said his budget would put “America first” by focusing on defense, law enforcement and veterans using money previously spent abroad.

“We are going to do more with less and make the government lean and accountable to the people,” Trump said. “We can do so much more with the money we spend.”

The White House did not specify how Trump’s budget would address mandatory spending or taxes, promising that those details would come later. The vast majority of federal spending comes from programs Trump can’t touch with his budget. Social Security costs were approximately $910 billion last year, and Medicare costs outpaced defense spending with a total cost of $588 billion in 2016. Medicaid, interest payments on existing debt, and miscellaneous costs made up an additional $1.2 trillion combined.

White House officials declined to answer questions about the president’s priorities on a host of other fiscal issues, including plans to pay for his wall between the United States and Mexico and infrastructure improvements. Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, emphasized that the priorities outlined Monday do not reflect policy on broader fiscal issues, which he said would be addressed later.

“We are taking his words and turning them into policies and dollars,” Mulvaney told reporters. “A full budget will contain the entire spectrum of what the president has proposed.”

Defense spending accounts for almost the same proportion of the federal budget as all nondiscretionary domestic spending, meaning that the Trump administration’s proposal would result in a roughly 10 percent across-the-board cut in all other federal spending programs.

The budgets of most federal agencies would be reduced substantially, said the Office of Management and Budget administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity on a call with reporters to discuss the proposal.

The announcement marks the beginning of a process in which the OMB will coordinate with individual agencies to flesh out the plan.

Trump said the proposed budget, which will be submitted to Congress next month, will call for “historic” increases in spending to bolster the country’s “depleted military,” and he said it would also support law enforcement in an effort to reduce crime.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, after meeting with Trump and other Republican governors, said she was impressed with Trump’s commitment to national security. “What I feel most confident is this: His No. 1 priority is to keep America safe,” Martinez said.

The budget plan attracted sharp criticism from New Mexico’s Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat, who called it “a deeply misguided approach” to growing the economy.

“I’m fully committed to supporting a strong national defense, including support for New Mexico’s Air Force bases and White Sands Missile Range, but this proposal would undermine our diplomatic efforts and shrink America’s influence abroad – all while making our nation weaker here at home,” Udall said in a statement. Udall, the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, said he was particularly concerned about the impact the plan would have on tribal programs.

But Terri Cole, president of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, said it was possible that the plan could “play to New Mexico’s strengths.”

“We lobby Congress frequently to increase spending for our military bases in New Mexico,” Cole said. “An increase in funding here would be a welcome development.”

Cole said she had not yet reviewed the specifics of the proposal and was awaiting more details from the White House.

Democrats have warned that under the current circumstances, Trump would be hard-pressed to make significant cuts to domestic programs without dramatically reducing some government services. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday that the scant details released by the Trump administration would likely lead to cuts to widely used programs.

“A cut this steep almost certainly means cuts to agencies that protect consumers from Wall Street excess and protect clean air and water,” Schumer said.

Journal staff writers Michael Coleman and Marie Baca contributed to this story.

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