In Depth

What White House budget reveals about Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign

Funding for a border wall and cuts to Medicaid take centre stage

With impeachment behind him and all eyes now on the November presidential election, Donald Trump will today unveil a $4.89trn (£3.79trn) budget plan that will slash spending on domestic programmes while requesting billions to build his border wall. 

According to The New York Times (NYT), the president’s budget will also include major investments to tackle illegal immigration, as well as “steep cuts” to programmes including Medicaid, disability insurance and housing assistance. 

Reuters reports that the blueprint is unlikely to be passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, “particularly in an election year”.

So what is in the budget, and what does it reveal about Trump’s upcoming election campaign?

What does the budget say?

The Washington Post (WP) says that the final budget of Trump’s first term “is expected to lay bare how much he has adjusted to the political and practical limits of Washington”.

Many of his 2016 election campaign pledges have been put aside, the paper reports, or have been replaced by more practical policies. 

CNN highlights that the budget will request an additional $2bn (£1.5bn) in homeland security funds for the southern border wall that Trump repeatedly promised would be paid for by Mexico.

WP also reports that the budget will cut Medicaid, despite Trump’s promises not to touch the programme during his campaign. Medicaid is the nation’s public health insurance programme for people with low incomes.

The pledge not to touch its funding has been “repeatedly ignored” since Trump’s election, according to the paper. The new budget will see him seek to slash some $800bn (£620m) over a decade from the low-income health support scheme, WP adds.

USA Today reports that the budget proposes military spending of $740bn (£573bn), a 0.3% increase. Non-military programmes would be cut by 5%, to $590bn (£457bn).

Officials also said that the package includes $4.6trn (£3.5trn) in deficit reduction, $4.4trn (£3.4trn) in spending reductions and a 21% cut to foreign aid, according to the paper. Reuters notes that following Trump’s impeachment acquittal, aid to Ukraine would remain at its 2020 levels under the new foreign aid proposal.

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What has the reaction been?

The budget has almost no chance of passing the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. However, as the NYT notes, “this year’s budget will serve as a blueprint for Trump’s priorities if he wins a second term”.

The paper reports that the package is “expected to reinforce the anti-immigration platform” that helped Trump win election in 2016 and that “will be a big part of his re-election campaign”.

In addition to the border wall funding, the NYT says Trump is planning to ask Congress for $15.6bn (£12.1bn) for the Customs and Border Protection agency, a 7% increase, and $9.9bn (£7.6bn) for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a 23% boost. 

USA Today highlights that the budget contains “$25bn [£19.3bn] for a new ‘Revitalizing Rural America’ grant program”. 

In a nod to his strongest voter base, the project will focus on broadband, water and road and bridge projects, as well as “job training and economic development programs” in key rural constituencies for Trump in 2020.

Trump campaigned on a promise to eliminate the federal deficit within eight years in 2016. However, CNN analysis found that the federal deficit, which has spiralled past $1trn (£774bn) in 2019, would not be eliminated “in the next ten years” in the unlikely event that the budget passes Congress.

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