Feb 13, 2018 postaltimes.com Trump Suggests USPS Cut Retirement, Health Benefits in $80B Savings Package
The White House suggested USPS bring its retirement benefits in line with the same changes proposed for the rest of the federal workforce, which would save the agency $35 billion over the next decade. Under Trump’s plan, the postal service also would increase employees’ contributions toward their health and life insurance.
Similar to reform legislation in Congress, Trump suggested USPS increase collaboration with state and local governments, reduce to-the-door mail delivery “where appropriate,” change its governance structure and create postal-specific assumptions about the demographics of the USPS workforce to prevent possible overpayment into the agency’s Federal Employees Retirement System account. The proposal said the Postal Service should institute a one-time price hike and have more flexibility in setting its rates, something postal management has also advocated.
The operational changes to the Postal Service would improve the agency’s financial position $45 billion over 10 years, according to the budget, while the benefits changes would reduce costs by an additional $35 billion. The total unified budget impact would be just $44 billion over the next decade. Source
Feb 13, 2018 cnn.com Trump proposes money for new FBI headquarters
Washington (CNN)The White House is proposing to spend more than $2 billion in funding for a new FBI headquarters, infusing cash into a stalled effort to replace the downtown Washington building.
The allocation, which would have to be approved by Congress, comes tucked inside President Donald Trump’s new infrastructure proposal and amid a war Trump is waging against the law enforcement agency’s top officials.
In a statement Monday, the FBI said it had submitted a report to the Senate on a “nationally focused consolidation strategy for FBI headquarters” that recommended the construction of a new building on the bureau’s current site on Pennsylvania Avenue. As part of the report’s proposal, the FBI would relocate operations and personnel from the current facility as construction was underway, the agency said.
“The FBI believes this proposed consolidation strategy enhances mission resiliency, continuity of operations, and will provide the Bureau with the agility necessary to meet future needs,” the agency said.
Although the GSA initially asked Congress for $1.4 billion to fund the project in the 2017 fiscal year, the agency said in July, Congress appropriated only $523 million.
On Monday, Justice Department officials said the President’s 2018 infrastructure plan included a $2.2 billion request for the FBI project that would be combined with funds held over from the original scrapped plans. Source
Feb 12, 2018 New York Times White House Proposes $4.4 Trillion Budget That Adds $7 Trillion to Deficits
WASHINGTON — President Trump sent Congress a $4.4 trillion budget proposal on Monday outlining steep cuts to domestic programs, large increases in military spending and a ballooning federal deficit that illustrates how far Republicans have strayed from their longtime embrace of balanced budgets.
The blueprint has little to no chance of being enacted as written and amounts to a vision statement by Mr. Trump, who as a businessman once called himself the “king of debt” and has overseen a federal spending spree that will earn him that title in an entirely different arena.
The White House budget request would add $984 billion to the federal deficit next year, despite proposed cuts to programs like Medicare and food stamps and despite leaner budgets across federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency.
Mr. Trump’s budget statement calls deficits the harbingers of a “desolate” future, but the White House plan would add $7 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years.
Last week, Mr. Trump signed a two-year bipartisan budget deal, struck by congressional leaders largely without his involvement, to boost both domestic and military spending by $300 billion. Mr. Trump’s budget, which was drawn up before that package was completed, does not entirely embrace the law that he signed just days ago and proposes spending less on domestic programs than what Congress — and Mr. Trump — agreed to last week.
On Monday, Mick Mulvaney, Mr. Trump’s budget director, informed Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, in a letter that the administration “does not believe these nondefense spending levels comport with its vision for the proper role and size of the federal government.”
That law increases military spending by $195 billion over the next two years and nondefense spending by $131 billion over the same period. The White House is proposing $540 billion in nondefense spending for 2019 — $57 billion below the new spending cap set by Congress.
The plan contains at least $1.8 trillion in cuts to federal entitlement programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and food stamps.
The White House is proposing to cut funding for a low-income food program known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, by more than 30 percent over a decade. It would also impose work requirements for “able bodied” recipients of food stamps and change how they get their benefits, replacing a portion of the coupons that allow them to purchase food at a grocery store with a premade box of “100 percent American grown foods provided directly to households.”
Mr. Mulvaney, in his letter, said domestic spending at the levels Congress authorized would add too much to the federal deficit.
Instead, he proposed using about $11 billion of the money to scale back the social safety net by changing the way health entitlement programs are paid for. That would essentially mean getting rid of mandatory programs now funded automatically and without congressional approval, and covering the cost with discretionary funds that could be cut or redirected in the future.
The message, Mr. Mulvaney said, was, “You don’t have to spend all of this money, Congress, but if you do, here’s how we would prefer to see you spend it.”
Yet for all of the talk of fiscal restraint, Mr. Trump’s budget also amounted to an institutional surrender to the free-spending ways of Capitol Hill, which Mr. Mulvaney said had surprised the president and prompted him to refrain from even bothering to advocate deficit reduction.
“I probably could have made it balance,” Mr. Mulvaney, a former anti-deficit absolutist, said ruefully of his plan on Monday, but “it would have taken funny numbers to do it.”
Mr. Trump’s plan could easily result in much larger federal deficits. The administration made its calculations using assumptions about the United States’ economic trajectory that are more optimistic than the consensus among private-sector forecasters, or the assumptions used by other parts of the government.
The assumptions in Monday’s release are also significantly more optimistic than the Trump administration itself used in its budget calculations last year.
The centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s budget is a plan to devote $200 billion over the next decade in new spending to improve the country’s crumbling infrastructure, starting with $44.6 billion in 2019. The president says the plan will generate as much as $1.5 trillion to $1.7 trillion in new investments in building roads, bridges and other major projects over the next 10 years, in large part relying on states, cities and private companies to fund them. But the proposal faces steep challenges in Congress, where many lawmakers believe $200 billion is far too little to create a sustainable stream of federal infrastructure money for the future.
“We will build, we will maintain, and the vast majority of Americans wants to see us take care of our infrastructure,” Mr. Trump said Monday at the White House as he released an outline of the plan and discussed it with cabinet officials, governors and local leaders. “Washington will no longer be a roadblock to progress; Washington will now be your partner.”
Still, the budget compensates for the new infusion of infrastructure spending in part by slashing existing transportation programs, which would be cut by $178 billion over a decade, according to a detailed budget breakdown the Trump administration sent Monday to Capitol Hill. Grants to Amtrak would be halved, from $1.2 trillion to $538 billion, while the Army Corps of Engineers, which manages vast amounts of public infrastructure projects, would see a more than 20 percent cut.
Lawmakers in both parties, who essentially went around Mr. Trump to strike their own budget compromise, made it clear they had no intention of embracing Mr. Trump’s plan.
Representative Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota, denounced “drastic cuts” to the federal crop insurance program, calling them “ill advised.” Representative Ed Royce, Republican of California and the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said lawmakers in both parties would once again reject the president’s “deep cuts” to the State Department and foreign aid.
Democrats dismissed Mr. Trump’s proposal on Monday as a far-fetched plan full of misplaced priorities.
“While the president and his O.M.B. director live in budget fantasyland, I will be in the real world negotiating a responsible, bipartisan appropriations package that invests in American families and communities,” remarked Representative Nita M. Lowey, Democrat of New York and the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee.
“It is utterly astounding that just six weeks after slashing taxes on the wealthy and biggest corporations, creating a huge deficit, the president asks older Americans and middle-class Americans to make up the difference by slashing Medicare and Medicaid,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader.
The Department of Homeland Security would receive $46 billion, a $3.4 billion increase over this year’s budget, all part of the Trump administration’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration and build a wall on the southern border with Mexico. The request calls for $18 billion for border security, including $1.6 billion to build about 65 miles of the wall in South Texas. The request also calls for the department to hire 2,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement and 750 Border Patrol agents.
Mr. Trump’s plan would also allocate $13 billion in new spending to tackle opioid abuse through prevention, treatment and recovery support services as well as mental health programs.
The president is also pressing forward with plans to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, despite Congress’s rejection of a similar plan last year. The budget blueprint would pare the agency by $2.8 billion, or 34 percent from its current level, while eliminating virtually all climate change-related programs. It would also cut the agency’s Office of Science and Technology nearly in half, to $489 million from its current $762 million.
In outlining the budget, the Trump administration said E.P.A. is refocusing on what it called “core activities” and eliminating “lower priority programs.” That list includes a program to promote partnerships with the private sector to tackle climate change; environmental education training; and an effort to protect marine estuaries.
The White House estimated that cutting those programs and others will save taxpayers $600 million compared to last year. Source
Feb 12, 2018 The Hill Trump infrastructure plan gets cold reception
President Trump’s proposal to revamp the nation’s roads and bridges landed with a thud on Monday, with Democrats chastising the $200 billion federal offer as too small to address the nation’s needs.
“This is not a real infrastructure plan — it is simply another scam, an attempt to sell our nation’s infrastructure and create windfall profit for Wall Street while rolling back environmental protections,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
He called the administration’s rebuilding proposal “embarrassingly small.”
Republican reactions were much more positive, with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) saying Trump was right to make improving infrastructure a national priority.
But Ryan focused his remarks on provisions in Trump’s plan that would cut red tape for projects, and did not clearly endorse spending $200 billion to spur on private investments across the country.
“Real action to streamline the permitting process will help jumpstart projects that are vital to our communities and our economy,” he said in a statement, adding that the House has already passed infrastructure reforms and that “we look forward to working with the administration on this critical issue.”
Getting conservative Republicans on board with spending $200 billion on infrastructure will be a tough sell, and even more so after a budget deal that included $300 billion in new spending over the next two years. The combination of that bill and December’s tax-cut legislation is causing budget deficits to soar.
Trump’s proposal would inject $200 billion of federal seed money to create $1.5 trillion in total spending on infrastructure over 10 years. Half of the federal funds would go toward an incentive program to match financing from state and local governments investing in rebuilding projects.
Democrats argue this is simply not enough to rehabilitate U.S. infrastructure and that state and local governments can’t afford to fund the projects.
They also derided the plan’s reliance on tolls.
“This is the kind of plan you’d expect from a president who surrounds himself with bankers and financiers and wealthy people who don’t mind paying a $20 toll every time they go to work,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), standing next to a large sign that said “Trump tolls.”
“It’s a plan designed to reward rich developers, large banks and the president’s political allies, not to rebuild the country,” he said.
Democrats also blasted the administration for cutting other transportation funds in the new budget to reach the $200 billion number.
“[T]he Trump budget actually slashes billions of dollars from infrastructure investments that prevent deadly floods, connect rural communities, and create good-paying jobs across the country,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is pushing a plan to invest $1 trillion into infrastructure projects.
An infrastructure plan has been seen as a long shot in 2018, an election year in which there is little incentive for Democrats to work on legislation that could provide Trump with a victory. Trump decided against moving forward with an infrastructure plan at the beginning of his term, choosing instead to focus on the more divisive issue of ObamaCare repeal.
In addition, House conservatives have never been wild about the idea of adding to the deficit to pay for infrastructure improvements.
Nonetheless, some key Republicans remain hopeful that progress is possible.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster(R-Pa.), who is retiring at the end of his current term, said the administration’s proposal creates “a golden opportunity” for bipartisanship on rebuilding.
“There is widespread desire to work together on this effort,” Shuster said following the plan’s unveiling. “Passage of an infrastructure bill will require presidential leadership and bipartisan congressional cooperation. I look forward to the constructive debate ahead of us on this critical issue.”
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said Monday that he would work across the aisle on a rebuilding bill.
“We need to make real investments — not cuts — in Florida and communities around the country,” said Nelson, one of 10 Senate Democrats up for reelection in states carried by Trump in 2016. “That’s why I plan to work with Chairman Thune and my colleagues on the Senate Commerce Committee to try to come up with a bill that can garner broad support and include ideas from both parties,” he added, referring to Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).
Thune, the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, said he looks forward to working with lawmakers in both parties on a future bill.
“Through this guidance and letting Congress have the opportunity to write bipartisan legislation, President Trump has offered us direction to meet infrastructure needs in our nation’s states, cities, and rural communities,” he said.
Such comments were in the minority on Monday, however.
Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), another member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, criticized the proposal for moving money around.
“It’s not new money. It is the repurposing of existing programs,” Garamendi told The Hill. “They’ve moved the money from existing programs to their new programs and say they got $200 billion over 10 years. No they don’t. It’s the same $200 billion that would be spent on ongoing programs.” Source