WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, the starting point for the nation’s upcoming debate about how and where to spend money, offered a heaping platter of funding recommendations, many of them unpalatable.

Call it a low opening bid in a cut-throat game of poker. In the budget game, the president proposes but Congress disposes.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, has been following the deliberations over the proposal. He considers Trump’s plan so extreme that he has pronounced it dead on arrival on Capitol Hill.

President Trump, a Republican who has surrounded himself with budget hawks since he entered the White House, did what he said he would do while he was running for office. He proposes to boost defense spending, although by exactly how much wasn’t exactly clear, and he spared Social Security and Medicare from any cuts at all. The Veterans Administration and the Department of Homeland Security would get more money.

And, as he said he would do, he ruthlessly cut areas he considers extraneous to vital American security interests or that are increasing the federal deficit.

The United States Institute of Peace, an organization championed by the late Hawaii Sen. Spark Matsunaga, is on Trump’s chopping block.

Wikimedia Commons

He proposed eliminating several programs particularly dear to Hawaii — including federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the United States Institute of Peace, a Washington-based organization championed by former U.S. Sen. Spark Matsunaga, a Democrat from Hawaii.

He also zeroed out $250 million in targeted National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grants supporting coastal and marine research.

He eliminated the Community Services Block Grant program, which he said would save $4.2 billion, he cut funding for the Community Development Block Grant program, which he said would save another $3 billion.

The president’s budget also proposed eliminating the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Legal Services Corp., the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Hawaii’s congressional delegation quickly expressed dismay at the extent of the proposed budget cuts. Within hours after it was released, Schatz announced that he believed it would not attract enough political support to survive.

“The president’s proposal is simply that — a proposal,” Schatz said in a statement. “It’s not going to happen.”

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono said in a statement it would “hurt Hawaii families” by cutting programs that people need, and vowed to resist what she called “nonsensical and harmful cuts.”

“President Trump’s budget is a statement of his values,” said U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in a statement. “While he clearly supports a strong Department of Defense, as do I, his budget prioritization cannot come at the expense of other programs essential to Hawaii and the well-being of Hawaii’s people. I will fight for a budget that puts Hawaii first.”

“Nobody is going to get kicked out of their house.” — Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s budget adviser

Compared to other president’s proposed budgets, Trump’s initial set of suggestions, which his advisors called a blueprint for congressional action, was unusually vague on details. A more developed budget proposal from the administration will be unveiled in May, containing a lot more specifics.

But this initial proposal sets the ball rolling in Congress, which will ultimately be responsible for shaping the budget. The early part of the process will be dominated by House Republicans, many of whom campaigned for office on a pledge of reining in federal government expenditures and balancing the budget.

To many of them, the single most salient fact in the debate is the nation’s $20 trillion national debt.

But even some Republicans gave only tempered praise for the proposal.

U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, a Republican from Mississippi who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, tepidly commended the president’s “focus on national security,” but pointedly added that he looks forward to receiving more details about the request.

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont who serves as the vice chairman of Appropriations, was far more critical, calling the budget “a hasty list of appalling unbalanced, shortsighted, politically driven priorities.”

He said the budget, if it were to be enacted as Trump recommends, would injure working families and reduce the chances of finding a cure for cancer.

“This proposal is divorced from reality and packed with partisan campaign promises,” Leahy said in a statement. “No business could run in this haphazard and shortsighted way. This is not a budget proposal but a budget by tweet, and the blueprint for the Trump Leveraged Buyout of America.”

President Trump’s budget, which he and his advisors dubbed the “America First” budget blueprint, proposed reductions in many government agencies.

He proposed to slash the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent, the deepest cut of all, and the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development by 29 percent. USAID is a primary vehicle for foreign aid, which Trump also opposes.

The budget for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would be cut 13 percent.

At a White House press conference, Mick Mulvaney, a fiscal conservative who serves as the president’s director of office of management and budget, said he realized that many of the proposed cuts would be very unpopular, but he said he and the president consider it unfair for the working poor to pay taxes to support programs enjoyed by the elite.

“I put myself in the shoes of that steelworker in Ohio, the coal-mining family in West Virginia, the mother of two in Detroit, and I’m saying, Okay, I have to go ask these people for money and I have to tell them where I’m going to spend it,” Mulvaney said. “Can I really go to those folks and say, ‘Look, I want to take money from you and I want to give it to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting?’”

Mulvaney said some of the cuts at the federal agencies are not as extreme as they first appear because they reflect removing construction spending from the department budgets. Mulvaney singled out HUD, and said the president hopes to restore some of that spending in a future infrastructure bill.

People who receive housing assistance would not be affected, he said.

“Nobody is going to get kicked out of their house,” he told reporters.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he opposed Trump’s proposed budget because, despite Trump’s rhetoric about boosting defense spending, he believes it does not provide enough money for defense. He said Trump’s defense budget would be $603 billion, which he said was only a 3 percent increase over President Obama’s defense plan.

“It is clear that this budget proposed today cannot pass the Senate,” he said in a statement, adding that it was imperative that the final, bipartisan bill should have “sufficient funds to rebuild the military.”

Leahy, on the other hand, said it called for too much defense spending.

“We are not a ‘strong nation’ if we simply pour more money into the Pentagon,” he said in a statement.

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