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AMERICAS >US President Trump to boost defense spending

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U.S. President Donald Trump will ask Congress to boost Pentagon spending in the next fiscal year by $54 billion in his first budget proposal and slash the same amount from non-defense spending, including a large reduction in foreign aid.

Trump said he believes the extra $54 billion spending on the U.S. military would be offset by a stronger economy as well as cuts in other areas.

“I think the money is going to come from a revved-up economy,” Trump said in a Fox News interview broadcast on Feb. 28. “I mean you look at the kind of numbers we’re doing, we were probably [at a] GDP of a little more than 1 percent, and if I can get that up to 3 or maybe more, we have a whole different ball game.

The president does not have the final say on federal spending. His plan for the military is part of a budget proposal to Congress, which, while controlled by his fellow Republicans, will not necessarily follow his plans. Budget negotiations with lawmakers can take months to play out. 

Trump told state governors at the White House that his budget plan included a “historic increase in defense spending to rebuild the depleted military of the United States of America.”

“This is a landmark event and message to the world in these dangerous times, of American strength, security and resolve. We must ensure that our courageous servicemen and women have the tools they need to deter war and when called upon to fight in our name, only do one thing: Win,” he said. 

Officials familiar with Trump’s budget blueprint said the defense increase would be financed partly by cuts to the State Department, Environmental Protection Agency and other non-defense programs.

“We’re going to do more with less and make the government lean and accountable to the people,” Trump said.

Trump’s budget will not seek cuts in federal social programs such as Social Security and Medicare, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Feb. 26. 

Such a military spending hike would be unusual given that the U.S. is not engaged in a major war, although its special forces and Air Force are active against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

An official said Trump’s request for the Pentagon included more money for shipbuilding and military aircraft.

February/28/2017

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