Feb 28, 2017
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s proposal to slash domestic spending to preserve the two biggest drains on the federal government – Social Security and Medicare – has set up a battle to determine who controls the Republican Party’s ideology.
The outcome could map the course of major challenges to come, including a revision of the tax code, a huge increase in infrastructure spending and any effort to balance the budget.
Since the start of his insurgent campaign, Trump has opposed his party’s long-held positions on a range of policies, including free trade, how to deal with Russia and the future of government entitlement programs.
Trump’s budget blueprint – which is expected to be central to his address to Congress Tuesday night – sets up a striking clash with the House speaker, Paul Ryan, who has made a career out of pressing difficult truths on federal spending. For years, Ryan has maintained that to tame the budget deficit without tax increases and prevent draconian cuts to federal programs, Congress must be willing to change, and cut, the programs that spend the most money – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.