No cuts to U.S.
entitlement programs in Trump budget: Mnuchin
Send a link to a friend
[February 27, 2017]
By David Lawder
(Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's first budget proposal will
spare big social welfare programs such as Social Security and Medicare
from any cuts, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an interview
broadcast on Sunday.
Mnuchin said Trump would also use a major policy speech to a joint
session of Congress on Tuesday night to preview some elements of his
sweeping plans to cut taxes for the middle class, simplify the tax
system and make American companies more globally competitive with lower
rates and changes to encourage U.S. manufacturing.
Speaking on Fox News Channel's "Sunday Morning Futures" program, Mnuchin,
who has acknowledged that tax reform is his top policy priority, said
the budget plan would not seek cuts to federal benefits programs known
"We are not touching those now. So don't expect to see that as part of
this budget, OK," Mnuchin said of the programs, according to a
transcript provided by Fox. "We are very focused on other aspects and
that's what's very important to us. And that's the president's
Trump during his election campaign promised not to cut Social Security,
Medicare healthcare for seniors nor Medicaid healthcare for the poor.
Preservation of these programs, coupled with a middle-class tax cut,
would aid the retirees and working class Americans who make up a
significant portion of Trump's political base.
In a transcript of the Fox News Channel interview, Mnuchin said Trump
will be "touching on tax reform" in his speech. Mnuchin said the plan
would cut the number of tax brackets and "create a level playing field
for U.S. companies to be able to compete in the world."
But Wall Street, which has sent stocks to record highs on anticipation
of Trump's tax cut plans, has grown impatient and could react negatively
to a lack of substantive details about the plan in Trump's speech,
financial analysts said.
With both chambers of the U.S. Congress in Republican hands, Trump has
the potential to enact major elements of his legislative agenda.
But divisions with the Republican Party over the approach on Obamacare
and taxes could prove to be an obstacle. Some Republican lawmakers have
urged Trump to lay out more specifics on his policy plans, saying that
more White House engagement is needed to build momentum in Congress for
[to top of second column]
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks at a press briefing at the
White House in Washington, U.S., February 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin
Mnuchin offered little new information and said key tax plan elements
were not yet settled. He said Trump was looking at a "reciprocal tax"
that would help create more trade parity with other countries. Trump
administration officials have complained that many countries charge
value-added taxes on imports while exempting exports from taxation.
Mnuchin again said he was still "studying very carefully" a House Republican
border tax adjustment plan that would levy a 20 percent tax on imports to
encourage more U.S.-based production and exports. That plan aims to raise more
than $1 trillion in revenue over a decade to offset lower tax rates for
"There are certain aspects that the president likes about the concept of a
border-adjusted tax, there are certain aspects that he's very concerned about,"
He added that the Trump administration would work with the House of
Representatives and Senate to craft "a combined plan that takes the best of all
of this when we bring it forward."
In a comment suggesting that Trump's budget and tax plans may use aggressive
revenue assumptions, Mnuchin said the administration "fundamentally believes in
dynamic scoring," a budget calculation method that assumes that a lower tax
burden boosts revenues by encouraging economic activity.
The Congressional Budget Office has previously used mainly "static" scoring
methods that assume very conservative economic effects of tax and budget
(Additional reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by Alan Crosby and Alistair
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.