- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Congress‘ Democratic leaders on Tuesday trashed President Trump’s budget as “heartless” but said that for the second year in a row they would not offer their own spending blueprint.

The House budget typically serves as a counter-argument to the president’s proposal.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, defended the no-budget decision by saying Democratic priorities are already outlined in the spending legislation Congress passed.

“Our priorities are included in the documents that the president has signed,” he told reporters. “So we have a budget we’ve articulated our priorities and we’ve set them in front of the American people. And we’re going to continue them this year.”

House Republicans demanded that the Democratic majority produce a plan.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, said the lack of a Democratic budget shows a “fundamental difference” between the parties.

“They won’t even produce a budget to lay out a framework of what the world should look like,” he said. “I think that’s why they’re having a turn out decrease across the country.”

Democrats followed the same game plan last year, forgoing the budget to avoid aggravating the deep divisions between progressives and moderates in the caucus. Instead, they focused on nailing down a compromise on spending caps.

Still, Democrats on Tuesday slammed Mr. Trump’s budget as “heartless,” arguing his federal budget exposes weak spots in his State of the Union address.

“One word, nine letters sum up the president’s budget: hypocrisy,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat. “The budget is a truth serum. And now the American people can clearly see he is a fraud and is not fighting for them.”

At a joint press conference, Mr. Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the president’s proposed $4.8 trillion budget was a “blueprint for destroying America.” They said it slashed health care resources, gutted education programs and moved money around to pay for Mr. Trump’s border wall.

They highlighted cuts to Medicare and Medicaid that they said break the president’s promises in his State of the Union address to protect those two core programs.

The president’s spending blueprint proposes reforms to Medicare that he said would save $290 billion over 10 years to improve the entitlement program’s solvency. The budget calls for Medicare to grow by 6% and Medicaid to increase by 3%, acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought said Monday.

It would also implement $465 billion in cuts to Medicare providers and $900 billion in cuts for Medicaid.

The cuts would impact vulnerable groups like elderly individuals with long-term care and those struggling with opioid addiction, said Mrs. Pelosi.

Democrats also criticized the president for cutting 16% from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“What could possibly be his motivation for cutting all that money from the CDC at the time of the coronavirus,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “What could he be thinking? Maybe I’m using that term loosely.”

The White House proposes to cut federal spending by $4.4 trillion over a decade, saying it would put the government on a path to balance the budget in 15 years. The proposed cuts include $2 trillion in savings from mandatory programs, such as $130 billion from changes to Medicare prescription-drug pricing, and $292 billion from safety-net cuts such as expanded work requirements for Medicaid and food stamps.

The fiscal 2021 spending blueprint, which would need to be approved by Congress, calls for non-defense cuts of 5%. It would slash funding for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development by $12 billion, or 21%.

Among other agencies that would be cut are the Commerce Department, 37%; the EPA, 26%; Housing and Urban Development, 15%; the Interior Department, 13%; and the Education Department, about 8%.

Democrats said the proposed cuts were a betrayal of the spending agreement passed by Congress that they negotiated last year with the administration.

“This budget is an insult to the hopes and dreams and aspirations of America’s working families,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “Clearly this administration cannot be trusted.”

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