The plan laid before Congress yesterday – which would see swingeing cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department alongside a 10 per cent rise in defence spending – is both insular and ill- conceived. Crucially, it is also destined to fail.
Described by one Republican Senator as “dead on arrival”, it is unlikely to win the support of many in Mr Trump’s own party, never mind the eight Democrats needed for the legislation to win approval.
But as with the decision by federal judges to stymie the President’s controversial travel ban, Congress’ failure to approve the spending cuts plays into the White House’s narrative about “the swamp” Mr Trump pledged to drain during his campaign trail. Under the budget plans, spending on defence would rise by $54bn (£44bn), including an extra $2bn for nuclear weapons.
The other big winners are veterans and the Department of Homeland Security, with spending increases of six and seven per cent respectively.
Every other government department would suffer a substantial cut, most notably the EPA which would see its funding slashed by 31 per cent and the State Department, where spending will fall by 28 per cent. It would mean the elimination of funding for climate change research and substantial cuts to foreign aid.
President Trump is right to identify that savings can be made in some bloated areas of government, but he will need to temper his reforms if they are to win support in Washington and ease anxieties elsewhere.