Monday, February 12, 2018

EPA and Medicare on the block in Trump's deficit budget

Let’s start with an item that Scriber thinks will be spared the budgetary axe.

While Trump promises to “drain the swamp”, one of the swamp’s denizens goes jet-setting on unannounced trips around the world, flying first-class while his security detail and aides fly coach reports the Washington Post in First-class travel distinguishes Scott Pruitt’s EPA tenure. On one junket last June, Pruitt “embarked on a whirlwind tour aimed at championing President Trump’s agenda at home and abroad.” That multinational trip cost us $90,000 in first and business class flights. And this goes on while Trump takes aim at the EPA in his budget proposal.

White House Proposes $4.4 Trillion Budget That Adds $7 Trillion to Deficits, reports the NY Times.

President Trump on Monday sent Congress a $4.4 trillion budget with steep cuts in domestic programs and entitlements, including Medicare, and large increases for the military, envisioning deficits totaling at least $7.1 trillion over the next decade.

Mr. Trump’s second federal spending plan also proposes steep cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency, despite Congress’ rejection of a similar plan last year to dramatically shrink the agency’s budget.

I’ll bet that those steep cuts won’t affect the EPA’s flyboy and his (self?) promotional tours.

The fiscal 2019 budget blueprint would pare the E.P.A. by $2.8 billion or 34 percent from its current level, while eliminating virtually all climate change-related programs. It also would cut the agency’s Office of Science and Technology nearly in half, to $489 million from its current $762 million.

Moreover, the Post reports, Trump goes after the safety net, White House budget proposes increase to defense spending and cuts to safety net, but federal deficit would remain. Here is the part of the story that focuses on Medicare.

The White House released a tax and spending plan Monday that would not eliminate the federal budget deficit after 10 years, its first public acknowledgment that large spending increases and the $1.5 trillion tax cut are putting severe pressure on the government’s debt.

The proposal, titled “Efficient, Effective, Accountable: An American Budget,” sets forth President Trump’s priorities as Congress prepares to consider spending bills for the next fiscal year.

Gee! A multiple-choice quiz, the fourth alternative being “(D) None of the above.”

The plan also calls for major cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and other social programs, reductions that conservatives have long sought.

For example, the budget would cut $554 billion from Medicare spending over 10 years.

Medicare is the federal program that provides health benefits to older Americans, and more than 55 million people used the program last year.

The proposed changes to Medicare include changes to drug pricing. The government would reap $47 billion in savings over a decade from a change to Medicare prescription drug plans that would have seniors progress more slowly through the coverage gap known as the “doughnut hole.” Far fewer people would reach the catastrophic phase, where they pay 5 percent of the drug cost — and where Medicare is on the hook for 80 percent.

The math is simple: 554 - 47 = $507 billion in other cuts to Medicare.

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