President Donald Trump unveiled a $4.8 trillion budget Monday that seeks to balance the budget in 15 years, falling short of the the traditional Republican target of doing so over 10 years.
The election-year proposal calls for reducing future spending to Medicaid, Medicare and other social safety programs. The reductions are designed to not directly impact recipients but, similar to last year's proposal, aims to achieve savings by reforming how Medicare pays hospitals and health care providers.
While the national deficit has grown under Trump, in part due to the president's tax cuts and a two-year budget deal that increased spending, acting White House budget director Russ Vought touted the proposal as fiscally responsible and sought to shift blame to Congress for the deficit.
"It balances the budget in 15 years, has more deficit reduction, $4.6 trillion, than any president's budget in history," Vought said in an interview with Fox News. "It continues to do everything we can to deal with the trillion dollar deficits that we're seeing as a result of Congress ignoring the president's spending reductions over the first three years. We continue to grow the economy at three percent."
The president's budget proposal is not expected to actually pass Congress but is seen as a blueprint for the administration's priorities.
Though the president pledged as a candidate not to cut Medicaid, Vought portrayed cuts in the budget as "saving" that amount to "good government reforms."
"There will be no cuts to Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries. This budget complies with the promise," Vought said in the Fox News interview. "There are changes to mandatory programs that achieve savings that are good government reforms. When we can lower the cost of a CAT scan in Medicare or lower the cost of prescription drugs or have people get back to work with a work requirement in Medicaid or housing programs, those are things that achieve things for taxpayers and help beneficiaries get back to work."
Vought said the administration continues to request more funding for the president's border wall project, but expressed confidence that the administration is on track to deliver major progress on the president's promised wall heading into the election.
"What we've secured over three years has required the mission critical requirements along the southern border and we are going to continue to request funding," Vought said. "But we're going like gangbusters -- 100 miles has already been built. About 500 miles will have been built by the start of next year. We have a good story to tell as it pertains to the effort along the southern border."
Vought called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to work with the administration on an infrastructure package, something that has remained elusive over the first three years of the president's term and expressed hope that the administration could find a way forward in working with Congress on drug pricing reform in the year ahead.
The proposal also calls for increased funding for the military and NASA, while proposing a 21% cut to foreign aid.
Pelosi put out a statement criticizing the administration's proposal on Sunday night, saying the blueprint shows "just how little he values the good health, financial security and well-being of hard-working American families."
"Year after year, President Trump's budgets have sought to inflict devastating cuts to critical lifelines that millions of Americans rely on," Pelosi said.
The budget also proposes moving the Secret Service under the umbrella of the Treasury Department "to create new efficiencies."