President Donald Trump long ago urged every administration department to review their respective budgets to find potential spending cuts, but he has flatly rejected one potential reduction that was close to presentation for final approval.
Following a report over the weekend that the Defense Department was considering a substantial cut to its healthcare spending, the president announced late on Sunday that the proposal had been “firmly and totally rejected” by him and would not occur, Politico reported.
Pentagon floats spending cuts
It was Politico that first reported on Sunday that Pentagon planners were just about ready to present a proposal to Defense Secretary Mark Esper that would have cut upwards of $2.2 billion from the department’s allotted funds for military healthcare services.
Those cuts were said to include military health facilities such as the Murtha Cancer Center and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, which is responsible for training service members who are entering the medical corps, among other installations.
Politico noted that two unnamed senior military officials warned that the proposed cuts would have “gutted” the military’s healthcare system in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.
One of those senior officials described the decision-making process on the cuts as “arbitrary” and focused solely on being able to report budgetary savings without any regard for the potential consequences of the cuts.
Reductions “firmly and totally rejected”
In response to the reported proposed cuts, President Trump took to Twitter to make it abundantly clear that he wouldn’t allow any budget cuts that would place military service members at risk of harm.
“A proposal by Pentagon officials to slash Military Healthcare by $2.2 billion dollars has been firmly and totally rejected by me. We will do nothing to hurt our great Military professionals & heroes as long as I am your President. Thank you!” Trump tweeted.
There had been earlier hints about the possibility of these reductions when top Pentagon officials suggested that the nation’s private healthcare system would have been able to pick up the slack that would have been created by the budgetary cuts and closure of military healthcare facilities.
However, some administration officials had already fired back and warned that such cuts would be unacceptable and overly burdensome on the civilian healthcare system that already had its hands full in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
Politico noted that, according to a Pentagon spokesperson, Secretary Esper had not yet been briefed on the package of proposed cuts for the department, though that process was scheduled to occur within the next few weeks.
As far as can be determined, the briefing will still go on as planned, but given President Trump’s unmistakable statement, it almost certainly won’t include any cuts to the military’s healthcare spending.