Trump's budget set to spark yet another fight with Democrats

Trump is requesting 8.6 billion dollars in new funding for a border wall between the United States and Mexico.

U.S. president Donald Trump's 2020 budget proposal released Monday is unlikely to pass in the Democrat-controlled House and is set to create yet another major political battle, experts have said.

It will cause a knock-down, drag-out fight between Democrats and the White House, with no compromise on the horizon, they said.

The plan, which came after a recent fight between Trump and Democrats over the funding of a border wall, led to an unprecedented partial shutdown of the federal government, involves a request for new funding for the border wall and proposed spending cuts for some medical care programs. "The president seeks to slash domestic spending in order to reduce the budget deficit generated by his tax cut," said Darrell West, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Trump's proposal, known as "Budget for a Better America," comprises a number of domestic spending cuts, including an 845-million-U.S.-dollar cut for Medicare, a health care program for the elderly. It also involves a revamp of Medicaid, a program for people with low income.

Overall, the plan aims to slash 241 billion dollars in spending over the next decade. West said he expects the Democrats to charge that budget cuts will "hurt poor people in order to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy." There are "many things in it that are harmful to working class voters and very few, if any, Democrats will find it appealing," he said.

Democrats warned Trump not to push ahead with his budget plans. "President Trump hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos when he recklessly shut down the government to try to get his expensive and ineffective wall," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a joint statement with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on Sunday. "The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson."

To add fuel to the coming fire, Trump's proposal contains a number of other items that are sure to send sparks flying. Trump is requesting 8.6 billion dollars in new funding for a border wall between the United States and Mexico -- a signal that the president is not backing down from his demand to build the wall that he has insisted is necessary to stem the massive tide of illegal immigration.

Acting White House budget director Russell Vought said Monday that border security is "deteriorating by the day," and pointed a finger at Democrats for continuing to refuse the president's requests to fund the wall.

The White House has cited criminal gangs infiltrating the United States through the porous southern border. The wall is also seen as a measure to curb the inflow of illegal immigrants, which many white, working class Trump supporters have blamed for driving down blue-collar wages.The Democrats said building a wall is too costly and will be ineffective.

"It is very hard for me to see a Democratic House agreeing to fund a border wall, and it is hard for me to see Trump being willing to accept, say, funding for border fencing in a few high-traffic areas of the border as a replacement," said Christopher Galdieri, an assistant professor who specializes in politics at Saint Anselm College.

While unlikely to pass, it won't stop each side from trading barbs in a bid to gain a political advantage. The budget proposal also came at a time when Washington's spending is seen by many to be out of control, with interest payments running sky high. "Trump is acknowledging that the national debt is a big problem," Republican Strategist and TV news personality Ford O'Connell said.

However, Dan Mahaffee, senior vice president and director of policy at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, said "neither Republicans nor Democrats seem to be concerned about debt and deficits, as the president's plan also pushes balanced budgets further into the future." The budget proposal reflects a deep and bitter divide between the two parties.

Galdieri said the White House "still does not seem to have internalized the fact that they did so badly in the 2018 midterms and that the Democrats now have a major role in the budget." "But they do seem to recognize how central the idea of a border wall has been to Trump's supporters since the start of his campaign," he added.

Xinhua

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