Dems tee off on Trump budget

House Democrats wasted no time Monday ripping apart President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign: Trump and former vice president will have phone call about coronavirus Esper: Military personnel could help treat coronavirus patients 'if push comes to shove' Schumer calls for military official to act as medical equipment czar MORE’s latest budget proposal, warning that the White House’s 2019 spending blueprint would decimate federal programs at the expense of the vulnerable populations they’re designed to serve.
 
“There is a very irresponsible and unrealistic perspective on what we need to do as a government to invest in the future of the economy and the future of our citizens,” Rep. John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthHouse Democrats plead with key committee chairman to allow remote voting amid coronavirus pandemic Kentucky Democrat: House lawmakers will not vote remotely during outbreak Dem Congressman: Coronavirus stimulus should be bigger than 2008 MORE (Ky.), senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee, told reporters Monday afternoon in the Capitol. 
 
Yarmuth, joining other Democratic leaders, said the domestic cuts proposed by Trump’s budget — which would affect virtually every federal agency in Washington — are the inevitable result of the Republicans’ newly enacted tax cuts, which are expected to reduce federal revenue by roughly $1 trillion over the next decade.
 
That “starve-the-beast” strategy, Yarmuth charged, was part of the Republicans’ design in passing the tax overhaul to begin with.
 
“This budget is a very vivid admission that the tax bill is truly the scam that we talked about last year, in the sense that the budget admits that it won’t pay for itself,” he said. 
 
“Clearly, with an addition of $7 trillion to the debt under this budget, the motivation is even stronger for the administration to push cuts in programs that serve many Americans and much of the vulnerable population of the country, which is what we predicted would happen last fall,” Yarmuth said. 
 
Trump’s blueprint, like other presidential budgets of the modern era, is sure to be dead-on-arrival in Congress. This is especially true this year, since the new White House plan rejects parts of the sweeping two-year budget deal Congress passed — and Trump signed into law — just last week. 
 
But the document provides both parties a messaging tool with which to carve distinctions between their priorities. 
 
“We have a clear signal … of what Republicans would want to do, at least what the administration would want to do after the 2019 fiscal year,” Yarmuth said. “But for the next year and a half, it’s really kind of meaningless.”
 
The more immediate effect of Trump’s proposed cuts, Yarmuth warned, will come in the form of diminished morale among agency employees, “because you have an administration that expresses not much respect for what they do.”
 
Released Monday morning, Trump’s budget blueprint proposes $4.4 trillion in federal spending in 2019, featuring a big bump in defense spending; $200 billion in new infrastructure funding over the next decade; and $18 billion dedicated to building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The plan would also cut sharply across the agencies, including a 21 percent reduction in funding to the Health and Human Services Department and a 29 percent cut to the State Department.
 
Breaking with a long-held tradition for Republican presidents — and bucking Trump’s own campaign pledges — the spending template does not claim to bring the budget into balance, but would retain deficit spending totaling more than $7 trillion over the next decade. 
 
Yarmuth praised Trump’s budget director, former GOP Rep. Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyMeadows joins White House in crisis mode Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House Meadows set to resign from Congress as he moves to White House MORE (S.C.), for resisting the temptation to claim that the document would eliminate deficit spending.
 
“I have to give Mulvaney credit for being honest,” he said.
 
Yarmuth said it’s too early to know if the Democrats will offer an alternative budget proposal for next year, suggesting there would be no need to do so unless the Republicans on the Budget Committee, led by Chairman Steve WomackStephen (Steve) Allen WomackOvernight Defense: Lawmakers tear into Pentagon over .8B for border wall | Dems offer bill to reverse Trump on wall funding | Senators urge UN to restore Iran sanctions Lawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts Deficits to average record .3 trillion over next decade: CBO MORE (R-Ark.), proposed a blueprint of their own — a somewhat futile gesture in light of the newly passed budget deal, which extends through fiscal 2019.
 
“I’m not sure what the point of doing it would be. But he’s new to the role, he may want to put his mark on it,” Yarmuth said of Womack. “We’re waiting to see what he wants to do.”
 
Yarmuth sought to downplay the significance of the budget as a campaign tool, but was quick to add that it certainly won’t help the Republicans win any new political favor with voters.
 
“It may not be a weapon that we can use successfully in an election,” he said. “But I’m not the least bit worried that the American people are ever going to say that this is the direction we should go.”