If enacted, the plan would involve a radical domestic reshaping of the federal government paired with a shift in the posture of American diplomacy around the world.
It is an approach that flows directly from the rhetoric and positions adopted by Trump on the campaign trail playing to his grass-roots supporters’ deep distrust of Washington and his “America First” political creed.
“This is a landmark event, a message to the world, in these dangerous times, of American strength, security and resolve,” Trump said Monday.
The budget plan comes at a time when the administration is making strenuous efforts to flesh out the ideological and political foundations on which the new GOP White House is built.
Trump to address Congress
Top officials, including the President, previewed a strident change of political direction at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week, and Trump will intensify the effort with his first address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night — a crucial moment for the new administration.
But the controversial nature of Trump’s emerging budget — always a magnet for partisan opposition — guarantees a fight that will test the White House’s capacity to corral lawmakers and shape public opinion. It also demonstrates a desire to boost military might and de-emphasize diplomatic reductions that will reverberate in foreign capitals of friends and foes alike.
Already, a cadre of retired generals and admirals has warned that cutting State Department funding on diplomacy and development would make America less safe.
Democrats say they will use every tool at their disposal, which includes the power of the filibuster in the Senate, to block Trump’s plans. The President could also face resistance from Republican budget hawks in Congress.
Defence hawks, meanwhile, are arguing that the $54 billion dollar hike in defence spending is not enough after years of budget sequestration that capped military funding.
It is not yet clear exactly where the cuts will come from. Monday’s announcement involved top-line numbers from the 2018 budget sent to government agencies that must now work out how to adjust their spending.
Any budget issued by the White House is merely an opening bid, and many soon become worthless documents once Congress, with its competing demands on the public purse, gets to work.