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Trump admin intends to change course on budget: White House official

Washington: Trump administration through its proposed budget wants to send a message to allies like India that the country is changing its course from a soft power budget to a hard power budget, a senior White House official has said.

“There’s a very deliberate attempt here to send a message to our allies and our friends, such as India, and our adversaries, other countries, shall we say, which is that this is a hard-power budget; that this administration intends to change course from a soft power budget to a hard power budget,” Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget told reporters at a White House news conference here.

“That’s a message that our adversaries and our allies alike should take,” the top White House official said as the Democratic lawmakers and foreign policy experts slammed the Trump administration for a drastic 28 per cent reduction in
the foreign aid budget, which mostly is routed through the State Department.

Trump had proposed a USD 1.1 trillion budget yesterday, requesting a massive USD 54 billion increase in defence spending and a substantial cut in the State Department allocations particularly foreign aid.

The White House defended its decision to cut diplomacy funding. “One of the reasons that you’re seeing such a dramatic reduction in the State Department on a percentage basis is not that this president thinks that diplomacy is not important.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. We’ve already seen that Secretary Tillerson has had a tremendous diplomatic success already on the deal he cut with Iraq,” Mulvaney said. Trump, he said, believes in diplomacy.

“We believe that this budget protects that core function of the State Department. It just so happens that much of the foreign aid that the President talked about in the campaign, much of the money that goes to climate research, green energy,
those types of things, they’re actually in the State Department budget,” he noted.

Senator Marco Rubio of the Republican Party said he does not support the proposed 28 per cent cut to international affairs budget and diplomatic efforts led by the State Department.

“These programs are integral to our national security, and cuts at these levels undermine America’s ability to keep our citizens safe. In order to advance our national security interests, economic opportunity for our people and respect for
human dignity everywhere, America’s leadership on the global stage is indispensable,” Rubio said.

“I am deeply disappointed and dismayed to find out that despite the concerns raised by bipartisan Members of Congress and even by his own Secretary of State, President Donald Trump appears determined to cut US national security by slashing the State Department and USAID budgets by 36 per cent,” said
Senator Ben Cardin, Ranking member of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

PTI