The Trump administration is unveiling a multibillion-dollar roster of proposed spending cuts but is leaving this year’s $1.3 trillion catchall spending bill alone.
The cuts wouldn’t have much impact, however, since they come from leftover funding from previous years that wouldn’t be spent anyway.
The White House said it is sending the so-called rescissions package to lawmakers Tuesday. Administration officials, who required anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said the package proposes killing $15 billion in unused funds. A senior official said about $7 billion would come from the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which provides health care to kids from low-income families, though that official stressed the cuts won’t have a practical impact on the popular program.
The administration is trying to use its authority to prod Congress to “rescind” spending approved years ago, but even if the package is approved it would only have a tiny impact on the government’s budget deficit, which is on track to total more than $800 billion this year. Some of the cuts wouldn’t affect the deficit at all since budget scorekeepers don’t give credit for rescinded money that they don’t think would have ever been spent.
For instance, more than $4 billion in cuts to a loan program designed to boost fuel-efficient, advanced-technology vehicles wouldn’t result in fewer loans since the loans are no longer being made. And $107 million worth of watershed restoration money from the 2013 Superstorm Sandy aid bill is going unused because local governments aren’t stepping up with matching funds. Another $252 million is left over from the 2015 fight against Ebola, which has been declared over.
Still, the cuts, if enacted by Congress, would take spending authority off the table so it couldn’t be tapped by lawmakers for other uses in the future. The catchall spending bill, for instance, contained $7 billion in cuts to CHIP that were used elsewhere to boost other programs.
“This is money that was never going to be spent,” a senior administration official said on a press call ahead of Tuesday’s submission. “The only thing it would be used for is offsets down the line.”
Democrats have supported such cuts in the past, eager to grab easy budget savings to finance new spending. But some Democrats howled over the White House proposal anyway.
“Let’s be honest about what this is: President Trump and Republicans in Congress are looking to tear apart the bipartisan Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), hurting middle-class families and low-income children,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
By: Walter Metuth
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