Reaction among North Dakota leaders to President Donald Trump’s 2018 federal budget proposal was split along party lines Tuesday, with Republicans calling parts of the budget a good start while Democrats blasted it as being harmful to wide swaths of the population.
State Republicans thought the focus on increased military spending was a positive step while decrying cuts to agricultural programs.
Trump’s $4.1 trillion proposal increases military spending by tens of billions of dollars.
The plan calls for cuts over the next decade of about $3.6 trillion in domestic programs, including $800 billion in Medicaid, the federal health care program for the poor and disabled, as well as nearly $192 billion in food stamps. Billions of dollars in cuts to crop insurance programs are also among the proposed cuts over the next 10 years.
Crop insurance cuts were concerning to Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.
“I appreciate the president’s commitment to cutting the deficit and balancing the budget for the first time in several years. I’m also grateful we have a president that takes America’s commitment to national defense seriously,” Cramer said in a release. “That said, I believe some of the cuts requested —particularly the drastic cuts aimed at the federal crop insurance program — are misguided and fail to address the biggest drivers of debt in our country.”
The president's proposed budget is merely a guide and lawmakers will be diligent in crafting a more balanced plan, he said.
Hoeven agreed with Cramer, saying the current Farm Bill, when passed in 2014, was expected to save tens of billions over the course of a decade and likely even more.
“Cuts to programs like crop insurance, conservation reserve programs and agriculture research are unacceptable, especially when our farmers and ranchers face challenges due to low commodity prices. We need to prioritize funding programs important to our producers and rural communities, because they are already doing their part to help reduce the debt and deficit,” said Hoeven, adding he’ll push back against such cuts as a member of Senate Appropriations.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., echoed her GOP counterparts on the cuts to agricultural programs in a statement.
“This budget puts the administration’s priorities on display. By slashing programs rural communities in every corner of our state depend on, it leaves North Dakota and rural America out in the cold,” Heitkamp said. “Some increases to defense spending are needed, but not at the expense of critical and sometimes lifesaving programs that support farmers, families and those across our state just trying to put food on the table.”
Robert Haider, executive director of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party, gave it a scathing review in a statement said that it would negatively impact the poor, young and elderly as well as the agricultural community.
“It further cuts funding for children’s health insurance and medical research, public schools and affordable student loan programs, and programs that support our most vulnerable populations, including children and the elderly,” Haider said. “Simply put, this proposal benefits the wealthy, while leaving the working class and rural North Dakotans out to dry. It cuts the vital programs that keep our communities safe and strong and our citizens healthy. And it is not an honest attempt at balancing our budget.”
A message left with North Dakota Republican Party Chairman Kelly Armstrong for comment wasn't immediately returned.
An overview of the Trump 2018 budget proposal can be found at www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/budget/fy2018/budget.pdf.