President Donald Trump outlined some very broad strokes of his budget proposal during remarks in Washington Monday.
Details will come later. But we do know after a quick briefing from Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney that most federal programs would be cut in Trump’s vision. Defense and law enforcement spending would rise. He also plans to dramatically increase infrastructure spending, although he did not offer a dollar figure to go along with that idea Monday and he didn’t say exactly how it would be paid for.
It should be noted that Trump’s proposal is like an opening bid and will go through a difficult budget process on Capitol Hill. But here’s what we know so far.
Trump’s opening proposal is that of the money the federal government can decide where to spend, $603 billion would go to defense and $462 billion would go to non-defense items. That’s a simple swap — putting $54 billion non-defense dollars into the defense pile.
Raising defense spending by $54 billion is about a 10% defense spending increase. That’s a lot of money and it will take across-the-board cuts from the rest of the government in order to achieve that level of increase since that dollar amount is larger than the complete funding for most other federal agencies. The US is set to spend $36 billion total on foreign aid in 2017. The entire budget requested by the State Department for 2017 was about $50 billion. That request will have to come down to meet Trump’s goal.
“The President said we’re going to spend less money overseas and spend more of it here. That’s going to be reflected with the number we send to the State Department,” Mulvaney told reporters.
Currently, the federal government spends more than half its discretionary spending on defense. Trump’s 10% increase — if Congress agrees with it and passes it into law — would add to that ratio. Here’s a breakdown using 2015 dollars, compiled by the nonpartisan Peter G. Peterson Foundation.
It’s important to remember that we’re talking about defense and non-defense discretionary spending. Most government money — 69% — is earmarked not for discretionary programs, but for mandatory spending on things like Social Security, Medicare and other health programs and government salaries. Here’s what that breakdown looked like in 2017.