In "Equipment Companies on Edge," (WSJ March 17) construction firms and machinery manufacturers expressed their fears of Trump's "other priorities" coming ahead of his promised infrastructure plans.
President Trump's preliminary 2018 budget proposal, released by the Office of Management and Budget on March 16, did not allay their concerns. Budget Director Mick Mulvaney gave the administration's order of priority: Health care, tax policy...then infrastructure. His opening message in the budget document is that "our $20 trillion national debt is a crisis." Caterpillar president Rob Charter noted that even if the administration acted today on infrastructure, his company and industry would not see the benefits until 2018, at best.
The main budget proposal is $52 billion (+9% change) for the Defense Department (plus a $4.4B increase (+6% change) for Dept. of Veterans Affairs), along with $1.5 billion in immediate funding to start planning and building the Mexican border wall, and another $2.6 billion to fund border security next year.
To pay for the big balance sheet increases, the administration proposes these department cuts (in alpha order):
o Agriculture: -$4.7B (-21% change)
o Commerce: -$1.4B (-16% change)
o Education: -$9.2B (-14% change)
o Energy: -$1.7B (-6% change)
o EPA: -$2.5B (-31% change)
o Health and Human Services: -$15.1B (-18% change)
o Housing and Urban Development: -$6.2B (-13% change)
o Interior (national parks, historic sites, land acquisition): -$1.6B (-12% change)
o Justice: -$1.1B (-4% change)
o Labor: -$2.6B (-21% change)
o National Institutes of Health: -$5.8B (-18% change)
o Small Business Admin: -$0.1B (-5% change)
o State Dept. -$10.9B (-29% change)
o Transportation: -$2.4B (-13% change). Cuts $499 million from the TIGER grant program (funds road, transit).
In addition, the budget calls for 20 federal agencies/programs to lose all funding, including (in alpha order):
o Corporation for Public Broadcasting
o Delta Regional Authority (economic development agency for Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee).
o Institute of Museum and Library
o Minority Business Development Agency
o National Endowment for the Arts
o National Endowment for the Humanities
o Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation
o U.S. Institute of Peace
o U.S. Trade and Development Agency
This budget proposal should come as no surprise, given the president's first act was to issue a memo imposing a federal hiring freeze, asserting a long-term plan to reduce the federal government workforce, and signing an executive order to reorganize the executive branch. This budget is the president's "wish list" to Congress, but the road to a final budget is long. The Congressional Budget Office submits reports to the budget committees, who have 6 weeks to submit views and estimates. By April 1, the Senate Budget Committee reports a concurrent resolution on the budget. From mid-May to the end of June, the full House and Senate debate and vote on appropriations bills from each of the 12 subcommittees. The president signs each of the 12 appropriations bill as Congress passes it. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, but the budget is rarely complete at that time.