The Trump Administration is expected to propose dramatic cuts to the federal budget to reduce spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years, while promising to raise defense spending, cut taxes, largely benefitting wealthy Americans, and protect Social Security and Medicare. As a result, any cuts to federal spending will primarily fall on nondefense discretionary spending that funds vital safety net programs, including affordable housing and homelessness programs.
These programs are already facing cuts in the coming fiscal year due to the return of austere spending caps required by the “Budget Control Act of 2011” (see related article in this Memo to Members (Affordable Housing and Transportation Programs Threatened By Severe Cuts). That law, however, requires parity between defense and nondefense spending. Affordable housing advocates argue that the parity principle is critical to protecting resources for the most vulnerable people because Republican members of Congress may be reluctant to make cuts to nondefense programs if they would require equal cuts to defense programs.
The Administration’s plans to cut spending are based on proposals offered by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and the House Republican Study Committee (RSC).
The Heritage Foundation budget blueprint would gradually scale back means-tested welfare spending programs, including housing, to pre-recession levels with an additional 10% cut, capped at the rate of inflation in subsequent years. The RSC budget questions the role of the federal government in providing affordable housing and recommends imposing work requirements on able-bodied adults who receive housing assistance. The vast majority of those with housing assistance are seniors, disabled individuals, people caring for a disabled family member or preschool children, or low-wage workers.
Although the RSC budget was soundly defeated by a vote of 292-135 in the House in 2015, one of its greatest supporters was Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC). Mr. Mulvaney was recently nominated to lead President Trump's Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the department that produces the president’s budget request to Congress.
Mr. Mulvaney confirmed the administration’s plans to have nondefense discretionary spending bear the brunt of spending cuts when he testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs during his confirmation hearing. He said, “I voted regularly [to increase defense spending] and hope to continue to advise the president that the best possible route forward is to raise the topline defense [spending] number and have corresponding reductions in the nondefense discretionary.”
President Trump is expected to release his budget blueprint on February 28 that will offer a preview of his administration’s full budget, which will likely be released sometime in April or May. The budget blueprint will set topline budget numbers for nondefense discretionary spending for each federal agency.
Read the Heritage Foundation budget blueprint at: http://bit.ly/1LMOYcI
Read the Republican Study Committee budget blueprint at: http://bit.ly/2k7PNnt
Watch Mr. Mulvaney’s confirmation hearing at: http://bit.ly/2joqRVS