WASHINGTON — A $4.4 trillion budget proposal President Trump sent to Congress Monday would provide a big boost in military spending and new funding for infrastructure, a border wall and opioid treatment.
But it does so at the expense of budget deficits for as far as the eye can see — $984 billion next year, with deficits continuing throughout the 10-year budget window. In all, the budget adds more than $7 trillion in new debt by the end of the decade.
Trump's $716 billion request for defense would represent a 7% increase. It's the greatest buildup since President Reagan, adding 25,900 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to the force of 1.3 million, building 10 new warships and increasing production of F-35 and F-18 warplanes.
"So we're going to have the strongest military we've ever had by far. We're increasing arsenals of virtually every weapon," Trump said Monday. "We're modernizing and creating brand new — a brand new nuclear force."
But while the budget proposal fully funds Trump's own priorities, his budget proposes spending $57 billion less in domestic spending than Congress authorized just three days ago.
Those higher domestic spending caps, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said in a budget message to Congress, do not comport with Trump's "vision for the proper role and size of the federal government."
That's despite deep cuts to some domestic spending programs. Last year's budget proposed eliminating 62 federal agencies programs entirely — recommendations that Congress ignored.
So Trump is making them again, proposing to eliminate popular line items like community development block grants, after-school programs, Energy Star appliance certification and public broadcasting.
Trump would sell off a wide range of public assets to raise money: Radio frequencies below 6 gigahertz ($6.6 billion), the Washington, D.C. aqueduct ($120 million) and electric power systems in the Tennessee Valley and western states ($9.4 billion). He's also proposing privatizing the U.S. stake in the International Space Station, using the money to fund a new mission to the moon.
The centerpiece of Trump's budget proposal is a long-awaited $200 billion infrastructure spending program, which Trump says would be matched with other private and public funds to provide $1.5 trillion in investment.
In a meeting with state and local leaders at the White House Monday, Trump blamed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for depleting funding for roads and bridges at home.
"But we have to rebuild our infrastructure," he said. "As of a couple months ago, we have spent $7 trillion in the Middle East — $7 trillion. What a mistake. But it is what it is. This is what I took over. And we're trying to build roads and bridges and fix bridges that are falling down. And we have a hard time getting the money. It's crazy."
The budget plan is the first step toward filling in the details of a two-year budget framework passed by Congress last week, which increased caps on both military and domestic spending. That compromise — specifically designed to win the support of Senate Democrats and avoid a filibuster — ended an 8-hour partial government shutdown Friday and signaled a budget truce for at least the next 19 months.
"We passed a two-year budget on Friday, so the Trump administration should have no illusions about its budget becoming law," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "It won’t become law."
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney almost conceded that point Monday. "Is this dead on arrival? That’s the popular question everybody asks. The answer is absolutely not."
But he said the two-year budget agreement "highlights the fact that this is a messaging document." The message: Congress doesn't have to spend every dollar of the budget caps.
Trump's proposal includes down payments on some of his biggest priorities, including:
► Infrastructure: The 2019 budget provides $21 billion next year toward an infrastructure spending plan worth $200 billion over 10 years — and which the White House says will help spur $1.5 trillion in spending when combined with state, local and private funds.
"This will be a big week for Infrastructure. After so stupidly spending $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is now time to start investing in OUR Country!" Trump tweeted Monday morning.
► Border security: The $23 billion request includes $18 billion toward the border wall along the Mexican border. $2.7 billion to detain up to 52,000 undocumented immigrants and $782 million to hire 2,750 more customs and immigration agents.
► Opioid treatment: Trump proposes an additional $10 billion in discretionary spending for opioid treatment, including a new program called Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics. But $5 billion of that figure comes from a cut to mandatory spending for similar programs, which would make the spending subject to year-to-year renewal by Congress and spending caps.