Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says budget proposal will unleash U.S. economic potential, though a bipartisan chorus of voices from major oil and gas producing states worry about cuts to social welfare programs. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
May 24 (UPI) -- A White House budget proposal was critiqued by Republicans and Democrats alike from oil-rich states despite calls to balance the books with crude oil sales.
A budget plan unveiled by the White House this week pegs a balanced budget in part to the sale of half of the 688 million barrels of oil stored in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which at today's prices would net about $17 billion.
President Donald Trump has pushed a nationalized economic agenda that leans more on fossil fuels than his predecessor. Critics of former President Barak Obama said he placed too many restrictions on oil and gas to the detriment of the pocketbooks for oil- and gas-rich states.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who helped steer legislation that led to the end of a 40-year ban on crude oil exports, said a presidential budget is more blueprint that formal policy, but many of Trump's proposed cut to social welfare programs like Medicare were contentious.
"There are elements of this budget I strongly disagree with, especially the drastic cuts to programs intended to help the most vulnerable among us," she said in a statement.
The budget proposal comes as Alaska deals with a fiscal crisis of its own. While the U.S. government was putting acreage offshore Alaska on the auction block for drillers, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker was calling lawmakers to a special session to tackle economic uncertainty, saying the state can't afford to draw on its savings any longer.
John Hickenlooper, the Democrat governor from shale-rich Colorado, said the budget proposal was "devastating" with its cuts to Medicaid and Social Security, while offering "massive" tax breaks for the wealthy. John Hoeven, a former governor and Senate Republican from North Dakota, the No. 2 oil producer in the country, said the budget proposal from the Trump administration was lopsided.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the budget plan prioritizes investments and the removal of burdensome regulations.
"These initiatives, coupled with comprehensive tax reform and other key priorities, will move America one step closer to sustained economic growth of three percent or higher," he said in a statement.