US President Donald Trump is determined to slash spending but looks like having trouble passing his budget.
US President Donald Trump is determined to slash spending but looks like having trouble passing his budget. OLIVIER HOSLET

Trump supporters get nasty surprise in a tough budget

MANY supporters of Donald Trump will be hit hardest by his budget - with $US3.6trillion to be slashed from government spending over a decade, cutting support for programs low-income families rely on.

The biggest savings would come from cuts to Medicaid healthcare for the poor, already in a Republican healthcare bill passed by the House of Representatives.

Mr Trump wants $610billion cut from Medicaid and more than $192 billion from food stamps over a decade.

However, more than half of the 10 states with the highest percentage of participants in the federal government's food stamps program went to Mr Trump in the election, according to analysis by The Independent.

Such deep cuts to such programs have been attacked by Democrats and even some Republicans. Trump officials were scheduled to appear on Capitol Hill overnight to discuss the plan.

The budget contraction reflects Mr Trump's view that too much tax is being wasted.

During a media briefing this week, his budget director Mick Mulvaney singled out the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the modern version of food stamps, which expanded rapidly after the financial crisis and had roughly 42 million beneficiaries in February.

About 18-20% of the populations of Louisiana, West Virginia and Mississippi - all states that went to Mr Trump - were participants in SNAP as of February, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

"I think at the height of the recession there were 47million people on SNAP, and now there's 44 million - even though we're at supposedly near-full employment,” Mr Mulvaney said.

"So I think that raises a very valid question, which is that: are there folks on SNAP who shouldn't be?”

He later said: "We need people to go to work.

"If you are on food stamps and you are able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you are on disability insurance and are not supposed to be, you are not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work.”

The proposal would cut SNAP by $192 billion over 10 years, shifting the cost to states.

The non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said the budget relied on gimmicks, unrealistic cuts and "rosy assumptions” of growth of 3% a year by the end of Mr Trump's term.

The Congressional Budget Office projects growth of 1.9% at that time.

The Pentagon would get a hike and there would be $1.6billion to begin building a wall on the Mexican border.

Senator Bernie Sanders, who ran a populist campaign during the Democratic presidential primary, said the budget showed Mr Trump's campaign promise to stand up for working people was "just cheap and dishonest campaign rhetoric that was meant to get votes”.

The President would reduce nearly a third of funding for diplomacy and foreign aid including global health and food aid, peacekeeping and other forms of non-military foreign involvement.

"If we implemented this budget, you'd have to retreat from the world or put a lot of people at risk,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said.

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