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Trump's high-spending budget reverses GOP dogma

WASHINGTON (AP)  President Donald Trump's own budget director says if he were still a member of Congress he probably wouldn't vote for the very budget plan he hawked Tuesday before the Senate Budget Committee.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told the panel that he "probably would have found enough shortcomings in this to vote against it."

But Mulvaney, a deficit hawk during three terms as a tea party congressman from South Carolina, said his job now is to represent the president, who promises to avoid cutting retirement benefits like Social Security and Medicare.

Mulvaney drafted the $4.4 trillion budget plan released Monday. It would cut social safety net programs and greatly boost military spending, while putting the government on track to run trillion-dollar deficits for the next few years.

The president's spending outline for the first time acknowledges that the Republican tax overhaul passed last year would add billions to the deficit and not "pay for itself" as Trump and his Republican allies asserted. 

The open embrace of red ink is a remarkable public reversal for Trump and his party, which spent years objecting to President Barack Obama's increased spending during the depths of the Great Recession. Rhetoric aside, however, Trump's pattern is in line with past Republican presidents such as Ronald Reagan who have overseen spikes in deficits as they simultaneously increased military spending and cut taxes.

Trump's budget revived his calls for big cuts to domestic programs that benefit the poor and middle class, such as food stamps, housing subsidies and student loans. Retirement benefits would remain mostly untouched, as Trump has pledged, though Medicare providers would absorb about $500 billion in cuts  a nearly 6 percent reduction. Some beneficiaries of Social Security's disability program would have to re-enter the workforce under proposed changes to eligibility rules.

Trump's plan was dead before it landed. It came just three days after the president signed a bipartisan agreement that set broad parameters for spending over the next two years. 

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