Breaking Down Trump’s Proposed 2021 Budget

On Monday, Feb. 10, Donald Trump gave voters a preview of what to expect from his second-term campaign by releasing his proposed $4.875 trillion budget for fiscal year 2021.

Unsurprisingly, the so-called “Budget for America’s Future” immediately drew criticism and applause from either side of the political aisle. In addition to suggested cuts for Social Security, foreign aid, the Department of Education, and the Environmental Protection Agency, the plan aligns with Trump’s previous campaign promises by proposing to put more money towards building the wall on the U.S./Mexico border, immigration enforcement, and the military.

However, the president’s latest plan also strays away from some of his administration’s past agendas—and there are a few suggested changes to domestic programs that voters may not have anticipated. Here’s how Trump’s proposed 2021 budget could affect you if it’s passed:


1. Trump’s proposed cuts to Social Security would impact disability benefits.

One of the most contentious cuts in the document is to Social Security, a topic which the president has wavered on in the past. In his State of the Union address and again in a recent tweet shared on Feb. 8, the president assured voters, tweeting, “We will not be touching your Social Security or Medicare in Fiscal 2021 Budget. Only the Democrats will destroy them by destroying our Country’s greatest ever Economy!”

However, Trump appeared to take a different approach in his 2021 plan by proposing to eliminate $35 billion from the Social Security Disability Insurance program and Supplemental Security Income program over the next 10 years, what the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget calls “tangible policy savings,” as well as $45 billion “in savings from promoting work among SSDI and SSI beneficiaries, which are unlikely to materialize at such a large scale,” according to the CRFB.

It’s important to note that while the cuts wouldn’t technically cut into the monthly checks that retirees get because, as noted, there aren’t any proposed changes to the retirement program, they would potentially impact disabled workers of all ages as well as the approximately 4.2 million children who receive money if their parents have a disability, have died, or are retired. 

When it comes to Medicare reform (which Democrats say is a cut to the program, according to USA Today), Trump’s plan appears to follow that of predecessor President Barack Obama, except when it comes to lowering the cost of prescription drugs (Congress would need to pass legislation to accomplish this) and allowing seniors to choose not to be enrolled in Medicare at all, according to the New York Times. The president said during his State of the Union address that he intends to make lowering prescription drug prices a priority this year. However, Democrats argue that a House bill they passed that would lower these costs even more has been stalled by the Republican-controlled Senate. 


2. Money allotted towards student loan forgiveness and grants will also take a dip under Trump’s plan.

Education funding, especially for low-income students, is at risk under Trump’s plan. In addition to cutting the Education Department’s budget by $5.6 billion, Trump’s plan would limit student loan forgiveness and put restrictions on how much students and their parents can borrow to pay for their schooling. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program, which forgives eligible individuals who make on-time payments towards their debts for a decade, would no longer be an option.

In addition, the proposal suggests getting rid of the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and no longer subsidizing the interest of Stafford Loans while students are in school. According to USA Today, this alone would cost borrowers $18 billion extra over the course of 10 years.


3. Fewer funds will also be devoted to the Environmental Protection Agency and foreign aid.

President Trump showed that he’s hoping to focus more on domestic matters by proposing a 21 percent cut in foreign aid funding, and instead increasing the money spent on building infrastructure and extending his 2017 tax cuts, according to the New York Times.

One suggested cut that’s already garnering controversy is the president’s proposal to cut the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by $2.4 billion, or 26 percent. With the Democrats’ attention on the climate crisis in the recent debates, it’s unlikely that the House would approve this move.


4. Instead, the proposed budget will funnel more money to border wall funding and defense.

While President Trump didn’t ask for the government shutdown-inducing $5 billion budget to fund the building of the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico in his new proposal, he did suggest setting aside $2 billion in the budget for that.

Other groups that got an increase in spending include a $544 million increase for Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as $182 million to hire additional Border Patrol agents, according to the New York Times. The money put towards military spending will also have a slight increase of 0.3 percent, according to USA Today, as will NASA, which is getting an additional $2.7 billion, as per NPR.


Now, it’s highly unlikely that President Trump’s ambitious proposal has a chance of getting passed by Congress as it is with Democrats currently controlling the House. However, the document does provide some insight into the administration’s agenda for the president’s potential second term and the talking points that he’ll be using on the campaign trail ahead of the 2020 election in November.