President Donald Trump released his 2018 preliminary budget proposal Thursday to mixed reviews from a Congress largely divided along party lines. While many Congressional Republicans applauded the president's $1.1 trillion budget, which includes a $54 billion increase in defense spending offset by deep cuts to some 19 federal agencies, Democrats were less than pleased with the proposal. Among those levying harsh criticisms was former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, who called President Trump's budget outline "morally obscene" and "bad economic policy" in a statement issued Thursday.
Sanders said in a statement that criticized the budget outline's proposed cuts to programs that provide assistance to working Americans, "It will cause devastating pain to the very people Trump promised to help during the campaign."
Although the budget outline Trump released Thursday covers only discretionary spending, it still gave people plenty to talk about. To help cover a $54 billion increase in defense spending, Trump's budget proposes eliminating or making serious cuts to funding for at least 19 federal agencies.
Among those slated to take the largest cuts would be the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump's budget proposal slashes funding for the EPA by 31 percent, resulting in the loss of more than 50 programs – including international climate change programs – and 3,200 jobs.
At a time of massive inequality, we shouldn't slash programs for seniors, children and working people to increase military spending.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 16, 2017
Under the president's budget proposal, funding for the State Department would be cut by 29 percent, while the Agriculture Department and the Labor Department would each be cut by 21 percent. The president's budget also calls for funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, the United States Institute of Peace, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to be eliminated.
While many Republicans defended Trump's budget cuts as a move toward more effective government spending, Democrats argued it would have major repercussions for working Americans by leading to the abolishment of programs centered on affordable housing, job training, weatherizing homes, combating homelessness, and Meals on Wheels, to name only a few.
"Trump's priorities are exactly opposite of where we should be heading as a nation," Sanders said, accusing the president of abolishing programs that low-income individuals and families rely on. "At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, when 43 million Americans are living in poverty and half of older Americans have no retirement savings, we should not slash programs that senior citizens, children and working people rely on in order to provide a massive increase in spending to the military industrial complex."
However, the budget outline Trump released Thursday is far from set in stone. The president is expected to release his full budget proposal, which requires congressional approval, sometime in May. Congress often makes changes to the president's budget, and it would not be unheard of for them to disregard the president's budget proposal altogether.