Feb. 11 (UPI) — President Donald Trump unveiled his $4.8 trillion budget proposal for fiscal 2021 on Monday, which calls for $740 billion in defense spending and $590 billion domestically — and notable funding for immigration enforcement and NASA.
The total amount of the 138-page budget, titled “A Budget for America’s Future,” is up slightly from the $4.75 trillion plan he proposed a year ago for 2020. While White House budget proposals are largely symbolic, they begin the annual budgeting process and identify the president’s chief priorities. In other words, it is Trump’s request to Congress outlining how he thinks the budget should be structured.
“Over the past three years, my administration has worked tirelessly to restore America’s economic strength,” Trump says in a foreword to the budget. “We have ended the war on American workers and stopped the assault on American industry, launching an economic boom the likes of which we have never seen before.
“With this 2021 Budget, my administration is placing a special focus on [many] forgotten Americans, because every individual deserves to experience the dignity that comes through work. The truth is, jobs do not just provide paychecks: they give people purpose; allow them to engage with their communities; and help them reach their true potential. As we have shown, the right policies offer Americans paths to independence rather than trapping them in reliance on government programs.”
The outline identifies five key priorities — better trade deals, preserving peace through strength, overcoming the opioid crisis, regulation relief and American energy independence.
The blueprint includes a request for $15.6 billion for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a 7 percent increase from current spending, and about $10 billion for Immigration and Customs enforcement, a 23 percent hike.
It also includes a request for an additional $2 billion to fund a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, down from the $5 billion Trump sought last year. He’s seeking less after the Pentagon agreed last year to divert $3.6 billion of defense funding to nearly a dozen border wall projects that Defense Secretary Mark Esper said were “necessary to support the use of armed forces in connection with the national emergency.”
The decision to tap the military for the money spawned a series of legal challenges that ultimately led two federal judges to block the funding.
Monday’s proposal also includes a 12 percent budget increase for NASA, to more than $25.2 billion. About $3 billion of that is earmarked for development of new human landers to advance Trump’s ambition to send U.S. astronauts back to the moon by 2024 and, eventually, to Mars.
“Mars is the goal, the president has been clear, we want to plant an American flag on Mars,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said last July. “The moon is the proving ground, but Mars is the destination.”
The president’s budget does not include a specific set of policy changes to lower the cost of prescription drugs, which has been another priority of Trump’s presidency. Instead, it sets a goal to save $135 billion by lowering drug prices over 10 years.
The president isn’t expected to ask for cuts to Social Security or Medicare, although the Trump administration has proposed more stringent reviews of the Social Security Disability Insurance program and its goal for drug price changes could affect the cost of Medicare.
The budget also includes a plan to extend the Republican tax cuts passed in 2017 by continuing cuts to the individual rate, which were set to expire in 2025, through 2035 at a cost of $1.4 trillion.
As Democrats control the House, experts say it’s unlikely Trump will get everything he’s asking for in his budget blueprint.
Trump’s proposal will next be submitted to the budget committees in the House and Senate. The Congressional Budget Office will study the blueprint and publish an analysis in March. Congressional legislation will follow, which will then allocate the respective taxpayer funds.