President Trump will move for a dramatic $11.7 billion cut in foreign aid in his annual federal budget set to be released this week, The Post has learned.
The proposed 21 percent cut is in line with Trump’s “America First” mantra and will be achieved largely by scrapping economic development aid to other countries, officials said.
“Every country gets this type of development aid [and] we don’t think it serves a significant purpose to be able to continue it,” a senior administration official told The Post.
“Obviously this is a priority of the president.”
Government data show $4.5 billion was appropriated for economic development in fiscal year 2019, with the top recipient, Jordan, getting $765 million.
But officials say it is often wasted.
“We’re cutting $4,800 to send American artists to a poetry festival in Finland … and $10,000 to support the Muppet Retrospectical in New Zealand,” another official said.
The first official added: “The Bob Dylan statue in Mozambique, the cricket league in Afghanistan, these are things that we just think are wasteful, and they’re largely funded out of economic development.”
Other cuts to foreign aid will include reduced funding to the PEPFAR anti-HIV program.
“We think it’s important to start to pull back. In a situation with trillion-dollar deficits, we can no longer afford that,” an official said.
Some federal exchange programs are also expected to be cut.
“About a million students came last year to this country through attending one of our universities. Only about 1 percent of those came through one of the federal exchange programs,” the official said.
“We have a couple hundred million dollars in savings just from reducing those types of programs.”
Trump won’t be touching military aid to Ukraine, which became an issue in the impeachment trial, and the new budget calls for a continuation of $250 million in Pentagon-administered aid.
His plan projects a balance to the federal budget in 15 years. The national debt increased $3 trillion during Trump’s first three years in office.
The budget carries over many Trump requests from past years.
It asks for a 26 percent cut for the Environmental Protection Agency and $2 billion in new funding for Trump’s Mexico border wall, less than the $5 billion sought last year.
Among more controversial proposals are a gradual reduction in Medicare spending by separating out costs not directly related to medical bills.
The administration is also seeking a student loan forgiveness program that spreads repayment over 15 years, pegged to 12.5 percent of income. The leniency would ultimately save money, officials said.
Many of the proposed cuts aren’t likely if Democrats continue to control the House after the November election.
“We’re going to have a national election in November,” the official said. “That will hopefully provide the political coalitions needed to enact these into law.”
The $4.8 trillion budget is expected to be released Monday.
It will propose a 0.3 percent increase of military spending to $740.5 billion and would lower non-defense spending by 5 percent to $590 billion.
NASA would see a 12 percent increase next year and the Department of Veterans Affairs would see a 13 percent boost.
Author: Steven Nelson
Source: NY Post: President Trump’s budget calls for $11.7 billion foreign aid cut