Trump: Budget will boost military and law enforcement spending, 'do more with less'

Trump: Budget will boost military and law enforcement spending, 'do more with less'
© Greg Nash

President Trump said Monday that his first budget proposal would feature major boosts to military spending and local law enforcement funding offset by “greater savings and efficiencies” in the federal government.

Trump promised a budget of “great rationality" that included funding increases that fulfill several of his key campaign promises while reducing overall federal spending.

“We’re going to do more with less and make the government lean and accountable to the people,” said Trump at a White House meeting of the country’s governors. “The government must learn to tighten its belt, something that families across the country have had to learn to do.”

Trump’s remarks come one day before he’ll speak to a joint session of Congress on his policy agenda. The president said the budget would be “a very big part” of Tuesday night’s speech, with the administration expected to release an outline of his proposal on March 13.

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"It’s going to have to do with military, safety, economic development and things such as that," Trump said of his budget proposal. "Great detail tomorrow.”

Trump said his budget will include “a historic increase in defense spending to rebuild the depleted military.”

A senior Office of Management and Budget official told reporters Monday that Trump ask for a $54 billion increase in defense funding. The official didn’t say what figure the increase was based on.

Trump called the defense spending hike “a message to the world, in these dangerous times, of American strength, security and resolve.”

Trump also promised increased funding for local law enforcement agencies to crack down on violent crime.

“We will fight violent crime, and we will win, and we will win that one fairly quickly once we give the local police, the local law enforcement, the right to go in and fight, and we back them monetarily and also otherwise,” said Trump.

Spending boosts for defense and law enforcement will be partially funded through cuts to Environmental Protection Agency climate change programs, the State Department and social safety net programs, according reports from the New York Times and Axios. 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox News on Sunday that the budget proposal wouldn't touch Social Security and Medicare.

Trump also said Monday his budget would help “[keep] tax dollars in America” to support military veterans and disaster first-responders, but didn’t specify how it would do so.

Changes to tax law would likely be considered through the White House and Congress’s ongoing negotiations for comprehensive reform, which are far from over.

Projections in Trump’s first budget proposal could theoretically rely on calculations based on predicted tax rates, but such figures could become irrelevant as negotiations continue.

Mnuchin said last week that the administration aims to finish tax reform by August. It would be the first comprehensive tax reform passed in more than three decades.