Donald Trump is going to balance the federal budget in the next 10 years and everything’s on the chopping block.
Well, not everything.
While safety net programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and unemployment insurance would be slashed by hundreds of millions of dollars under the president’s budget proposal to Congress—which was unveiled Tuesday—Trump himself has quietly requested steady or increased funding for the programs he personally uses, including for his own security, operations at the White House, and the vice president’s residence.
Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, unveiled the proposal Tuesday from the White House, with a stark warning about previous administrations’ big spending habits, which Mulvaney blamed for the ballooning federal debt.
“If I take money from you and I have no intention of ever giving it back, that is not debt,” Mulvaney told reporters at the White House. “That is theft.”
The cuts to some parts of the federal budget would be severe under Trump’s proposal. The Department of Labor’s budget would drop 19.8 percent. The Department of the Interior would get cut by 10.9 percent. The Environmental Protection Agency loses more than 30 percent of its entire budget in the Trump document—all in the name of fiscal discipline and balancing the federal budget within the next 10 years.
But Trump’s budget does not include any cuts for the executive office of the president, including the roughly 450 people on the White House staff, nor for the multimillion dollar operating budgets at the White House residence or at the Naval Observatory, where Vice President Mike Pence lives.
Trump also chose to fully fund or increase funding for the eight advisory councils that report to him through the Executive Office of the President, including the Council of Economic Advisers, the National Security Council, the U.S. Trade Representative, and the Council on Environmental Quality.
Mulvaney’s agency, the Office of Management and Budget, even gets a 7.7 percent increase in the White House budget request. The extra $8 million would mostly go to pay for an additional 30 full-time staff positions, which would put the total number of staff at OMB at 495. Neither the White House nor the OMB responded to inquiries about why the extra personnel would be necessary, but a senior House staffer familiar with the OMB request confirmed that the agency has asked for more money and additional staff.
Elsewhere in the budget, Trump also requests $60 million, in part to hire more Secret Service agents, who guard him and his family, as well as the multiple Trump residences outside of Washington that have to be secured at all times. The Washington Post reported that the Secret Service had asked for the extra money in March.
Like all presidents’ budget proposals, this one is likely to get put on shelves and shoved in desks all over Washington and never looked at again, since it’s Congress that will ultimately decide what gets spent and where. But the message from Trump’s budget is clear—slash federal spending, just not in my backyard.