Trump considering welfare reform to tighten budget

By Danielle Haynes  |  Oct. 16, 2017 at 3:37 PM
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Oct. 16 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Monday said he and his Cabinet would be considering welfare reform as a means of tightening federal spending.

He made the comments ahead of a Cabinet meeting on domestic policy issues.

"We want to also reduce excessive government spending, and that's what we're working on at our Cabinet meeting today," Trump told reporters, adding that he's asked Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to work with the various departments to push spending cuts.

"And we want to make the departments as lean and efficient as possible, but at the same time, we're going to need departments with lots of heart.

"One thing we're going to be looking at very strongly is welfare reform," Trump said. "That's becoming a very, very big subject, and people are taking advantage of the system. And then other people aren't receiving what they really need to live, and we think it's very unfair to them."

He offered no details on specific cuts to the system.

In May, Trump proposed a 2018 budget that would cut non-defense discretionary spending by $54 billion. It would cut entitlement programs like Medicaid, as well as the Children's Health Insurance Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

After the Cabinet meeting, Trump had a working lunch with Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. The president and Senate leader held an unexpected news conference with reporters and, among other topics, pushed tax reform.

McConnell said the Senate would tackle tax reform after approving the budget. "Obviously, the budget opens the path to tax reform," he said.

Trump said he wants to make the middle class the biggest beneficiary of tax reform.

"The goal is to get it done this calendar year," he said, but pointed to previous administrations taking a longer time to get other major legislation passed.

In addition to the budget and tax reform, Trump addressed healthcare. He said he's happy with his actions last week to end subsidies to help Americans pay for insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

"I want to get healthcare that's much more affordable and much better healthcare," he said, adding that the insurance companies "have made a fortune with Obamacare."

Trump also teased a "major announcement" next week on the opioid crisis. He said he also intends to evaluate a Washington Post/60 Minutes report on Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., the president's nominee to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The investigation found Marino helped push legislation that limited the government's ability to take enforcement action against some drug companies.

"He was a very early supporter of mine from the great state of Pennsylvania. He's a great guy. I did see the report. We're going to look into the report," Trump said.

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