Trump Wants To Cut $15 Billion From $1.3 Trillion Budget, Largely From Children’s Health Insurance Program
By Nicole Goodkind Newsweek May 8, 2018
President Donald Trump has long promised to walk back some of Congress’s $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill and, on Monday afternoon, he announced that he would ask Congress to slash about $15 billion in spending through a formal rescission request.
The request is far less than the $60 billion Trump originally wanted to rescind from the bill, and if completely enacted would amount to a cut of about 1.15 percent overall. But nearly half of the cuts would come from parts of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which the White House says expired last year and can’t be legally used. Another $800 million would come from cuts to an Affordable Care Act program designed to test alternative payment and delivery methods, according to The Washington Post.
CHIP is a program that provides low-cost health care for about 9 million children in families that make too much money to qualify for Medicaid. The program is funded both by states and the federal government, but it is administered on the state level. Trump previously created confusion about CHIP during budget negotiations in January, but Congress ultimately agreed to renew the $15.6 billion program.
About $5 billion of the cuts would come directly from the Children’s Health Insurance Fund which reimburses states for health care costs, and an additional $2 billion would come from the Child Enrollment Contingency Fund, which provides backup funds to states in case of a surge in enrollment.
The announcements about cuts to CHIP were made the same day First Lady Melania Trump announced a new campaign to keep children "healthy and balanced."
The White House stressed that the majority of these cuts would come from expired or “untapped accounts,” and that they wouldn’t hurt the fundamental structure of the bipartisan spending bill. But critics argue that the cuts are a “rounding error ” that are more of a “publicity stunt” than anything.
Trump is legally required to spend the money that Congress budgets, but he is allowed to delay spending while asking Congress to make permanent cuts. Once the president presents an official request, which he is expected to do Tuesday, Congress has 45 days to make a final decision, and can vote for it with a simple majority in Senate instead of the typical 60-vote supermajority needed to pass most bills.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, has shown little interest in bringing a rescission bill to a vote, and has said that going back on an arduously negotiated, bipartisan bill is an act of bad faith. It’s also unlikely that a bill to further cut spending would pass in a lame-duck Congress with midterm elections coming up in just a few months.
President Trump, who helped pass a $1.5 trillion tax cut, supports a large-scale infrastructure program, and an extra $33 billion in border funding including $18 billion for a wall, has been criticized for his excessive spending during boom times. "I ran for office because I was critical of President Obama's trillion-dollar deficits," Republican Senator Rand Paul said. "Now we have Republicans hand-in-hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits."
This would be the first use of executive rescission authority since 2000.
More on the politics of this proposal from the Washington Post:
Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) said in an interview that conservatives were given assurances from the White House that this package would be the first of several, and he said lawmakers were anxious to get started on the cuts. “I hope it’s never painted that this is just symbolic or a political gesture,” Walker said. “We think it’s very legitimate.”
A senior administration official said Democrats should recognize that much of this package represents untapped accounts and that cutting the money would create savings without affecting operations.
Democrats have said they are watching the process with skepticism. Many Democrats have called for expanding programs such as CHIP, not cutting them, and they are often fiercely protective of anything related to the Affordable Care Act.
….The package ran into trouble in the Senate before being officially released.
“One of the programs that reportedly is going to be cut is SCHIP, and that concerns me greatly,” said Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-Maine), using the program’s former name. “I would have to have an awfully good reason given to me, and maybe there is one. I don’t know why there would be funds left in the SCHIP account, but that’s a program that I was an original co-sponsor of with Sens. [Orrin] Hatch and [Edward] Kennedy years ago and it matters a lot to me.”….
Included in the White House's proposed reductions, per Politico:
— $10 million from the Environmental Protection Agency
—$150 million from the Corporation for National and Community Service
— $52 million from the Millennium Challenge Corporation
— $148 million from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
— $656 million from the Natural Resources Conservation Service
— $42 million from the Rural Housing Service
— $50 million from the Rural Business-Cooperative Service
— $50.2 million from the Rural Utilities Service
— $16 million from the Forest Service
— $30 million from the Economic Development Administration
— $4.3 billion from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program
— $683 million from the Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program
— $6.96 billion from the Children's Health Insurance Program
— $800 million from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation
— $220 million from "Departmental Management" expense fund
— $40.8 million from Public and Indian Housing Programs
— $106 million from Legal Activities and U.S. Marshals
— $22.9 million from the Employment and Training Administration
— $30 million from the Complex Crises Fund
— $252 million from U.S. AID, for the Ebola outbreak response
— $179.1 million from the Federal Highway Administration
— $53.4 million from the Federal Railroad Administration
— $46.5 million from the Federal Transit Administration
— $53 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund
— $22.7 million from the Community Development Financial Institution Fund
— $151 million from Capital Magnet Fund, Community Development Financial Institutions
— $133 million from the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Extended Benefits program