- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 31, 2018

As President Trump ticked off a long list of items Tuesday where he thought Congress could find bipartisan agreement — infrastructure, job training, child care and the opioid crisis — Rep. Joseph Crowley kept rubbing his fingers together in the universal signal for “show me the money.”

Mr. Crowley, a fellow New Yorker and chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, was quietly razzing Mr. Trump. But the gesture highlighted the deep distrust on the left side of the aisle about the president’s willingness to make bipartisan priorities into budget priorities.

The president seems to suffer form the same shortcoming he finds in so many of his foes: all talk and no action, said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Florida Democrat.

“Where he spoke promisingly — on lowering prescription costs, tackling opioid abuse or providing paid family leave — he’s done little but talk,” she said.

White House officials declined to respond to the criticism that the budget doesn’t reflect the president’s bipartisan agenda.



Budget negotiations have stalled amid Democrats demand that for every extra dollar spent on the military, an extra dollar is spent on domestic programs. Those negotiations are headed toward a Feb. 8 deadline and probably another stopgap spending bill to keep the government open.

Busting the caps on defense and non-defense spending would cost about $150 billion a year and threaten to explode deficits.

If Congress continued growing discretionary spending from that higher level, it would cost as much as $1.5 trillion over 10 years, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

“There is no telling how much a response to the opioid crisis would cost, but Senate Democrats have been pushing for $25 billion in funding,” said Patrick Newton, a spokesman for the watchdog group.

The cost of the paid leave proposal alone was $15 billion in the last budget, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Mr. Trump’s plan to rebuild highways, bridges and other infrastructure calls for $200 billion of spending that is supposed to leverage $1.5 trillion invested by state and local governments.

Details have not been released, but administration officials said the money would not be new spending but repurposed funds cut from Amtrak and other transportation accounts.

Shuffling funds in that manner also doesn’t appeal to Democrats.

“The president says he wants to rebuild America’s infrastructure, but he proposes no substantial federal commitment to get the job done,” said Rep. Peter Welch, Vermont Democrat.

Matthew Dennis, spokesman for House Appropriations Committee Democrats, said the president not only failed to increase spending but proposed cutting programs that address those action items.

Rather than tackle the opioid epidemic, Mr. Trump requested a $15 billion cut to the Department of Health and Human Services, with massive cuts to National Institutes of Health, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On the job-training front, he proposed a 40 percent cut for employment and training system, eliminating services for 7 million to 8 million people seeking work or a better paying career.

“It’s a bit hard to take the president’s lofty words seriously when this is his record,” said Mr. Dennis.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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