Trump budget calls for huge increases in CT-made subs, ‘copters

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ronald Gutridge.

The Virginia-class attack submarine USS Texas.

Washington – President Donald Trump’s new budget would dramatically boost spending on the Virginia-class and Columbia-class submarines built by Electric Boat in Connecticut and sharply increase the Pentagon’s purchase of Sikorsky helicopters in the next federal fiscal year.

The president’s budget also would slash domestic spending. Those cuts are considered dead-on-arrival since Congress last week agreed to raise domestic spending as well as military spending.

But Trump’s proposal for the Pentagon’s budget, at about $716 billion, is more aligned with Congress’ agreement to spend about $710 billion on the military in the next federal fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1.

“It is more real,” said Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

The new Trump budget calls for $3.7 billion for the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, an increase of more than $3 billion over what will be spent on the program, in its design and planning stage, this year.

The Virginia-class attack sub program would receive a $2 billion boost from $5.4 billion to $7.4 billion to continue building the subs at a pace of two a year and sharply increase the amount of advance procurement money for the next lot of 10 submarines, which will cost more because they will incorporate a new payload module in their mid-sections, increasing their overall length.

The number of Sikorsky-made Black Hawks purchased by the Pentagon, which has decreased in recent years, would rise again to 68, an increase of nearly $400 million from the military’s current spending on the program.

Sikorsky Aircraft

Sikorsky’s new heavy lift King Stallion helicopter.

Trump also has asked for eight new Sikorsky King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters, and has nearly doubled the budget, from $451 to $894 million, for the new Sikorsky presidential helicopter.

Trump budget also calls for 77 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for 2019, a slight decrease from the number Congress is expected to fund this year.

The president also has asked Congress for $18 billion to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.

Like his 2018 request, which was never adopted by Congress, Trump’s new budget calls for deep cuts to domestic programs.

Like last year, it calls for an end to the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, which helps thousands of moderate-income Connecticut residents pay for their heating bills.

The budget proposal also would eliminate other programs and federal agencies.

Those include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds public radio and television stations; the National Wildlife Refuge Fund, which compensates communities for lost tax revenue when the federal government acquires land; and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which helps communities establish or expand centers to provide before- and after-school programs and summer-school programs.

The 21st Century Community grants, which run between $25,000 and $200,000 a year, help pay for programs in Bridgeport, Hartford, Waterbury and a number of other Connecticut communities.

The budget also would eliminate loan forgiveness for students who go into public service, do away with subsidized Stafford loans, and establish a new, unified income-based repayment plan for student loans.

Lockheed Martin photo

The F-35A stealth fighter, the Air Force version of the plane.

“It’s déjà vu all over again in America,” said National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García. “Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos are at it again. They are playing politics with the lives of millions of students and working families with their latest reckless and misguided budget proposal, which is nearly identical to what Congress rejected last year.”

The new budget asks households that receive help from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to pay for more of their housing costs.

“The administration’s reforms require able-bodied individuals to shoulder more of their housing costs and provide an incentive to increase their earnings…,” the budget said.

Trump’s proposal also would make a deep cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, and calls for eliminating federal community development block grants, which provide funds to communities to repair and build affordable housing.

While Medicare’s funding would increase, its growth would be slower than current projections for the program. The budget also would roll back the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, the health care program for the poor.

“The Trump Administration budget proposal is paid for on the backs of seniors and America’s most vulnerable,” said Rep. John Larson, D-1st District.

Courtney said the president’s proposed reduction in domestic programs “went nowhere in 2018 and is going nowhere in 2019.” He also said the massive budget documents released Monday “would make a good paperweight.”

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