Leahy: Trump budget not worth the paper it's printed on

By  | 

WASHINGTON (WCAX) Vermont's Congressional delegation isn't impressed with the president's multi-trillion-dollar spending plan.

President Trump's budget calls for spending just less than $5 trillion with more than one trillion going on the national credit card. He wants a five percent increase in military spending, while cutting five percent from everything else.

The proposal includes billions for expanding the U.S.-Mexico border wall, a new space force, and making 2017's tax cuts permanent.

He's pitching hundreds of billions in infrastructure improvements and efforts to fight opioid addiction, but offered no specifics.

The cuts would come at the expense of safety-net programs like food assistance, health care programs, and the environmental protection agency.

Senator Patrick Leahy will play a key role in the budget battle ahead and he says the plan isn't worth the paper it's printed on. He says that Congress will have to build its own budget from scratch.

"Let's go down and look at things realistically, what's best for America, and go for it. But this bill saying we'll give a huge increase to defense, but we'll cut Medicare and Medicaid, cut research into preventing cancer, cut feeding programs for children, cut LIHEAP, cut our environmental programs, and continue a massive tax cut. No, that's not going to go anywhere," Leahy said.

The United States spends as much on the military as the next 10 highest-spending countries combined. Leahy says Congress needs to seriously re-examine its defense budget.

"I think it is time to start looking at our military. I'm not against military spending, provided it's for things that actually show in the real world. For example, how many aircraft carriers do we need to go to war in Iraq. We need to have the money to stop terrorist groups. We need to have the money to prevent attacks like 9/11, attacks against our department of defense, our infrastructure, our intelligence agencies, every single day from several countries around the world. We're going to be vulnerable if we don't spend money in the right places," Leahy said.

Leahy says the country must start chipping away at its $22-trillion debt, but that requires serious policy conversations.

The president's team argues his plan will close the yearly-gap between what the government spends and what it brings in over ten years. But that counts on economic growth projections that most economists see as too rosy.