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White House Press Briefing 3/11/19 By Sarah Sanders

Sarah Sanders speaking: Good afternoon. President Trump’s 2020 budget, which was released today, builds upon incredible success and keeps his promises to the American people. It continues the President’s pro-job creation policies, keeps taxes low, combats the opioid epidemic, protects our veterans, defends our nation, and secures our borders.

Even with a strong economy, deficits are still a threat, and this budget demonstrates the President’s vision to restrain Washington spending and reach a balanced budget by 2034. This is a clear roadmap for a more fiscally responsible future if Congress chooses to follow it.

Transcript: good afternoon president Trump's 2020 budget which was released today builds upon incredible success and keeps his promises to the American people it continues the president's pro-job creation policies keeps taxes low combats the opioid epidemic protects our veterans defends our nation and secures our borders even with a strong economy deficits are still a threat in this budget demonstrates the president's vision to restrain Washington spending and reach a balanced budget by 2034 this is a clear roadmap for a more fiscally responsible future if Congress chooses to follow it to talk about the President's budget proposal and take questions on the topic I'd like to bring up acting director of OMB Russ Pope after that I'll be back up to take questions of the day thanks Sarah good afternoon everyone happy budget day today we had released the president's fiscal year 2020 budget a budget for a better America promises kept taxpayers first this budget reflects the president's priorities to ensure that all Americans can benefit from the nation's historic economic boom in record low unemployment no president has done more in two years to strengthen our military we start our economy in reform of government than President Trump promises he made while running for office this great progress is threatened by our unsustainable national debt which is nearly doubled under the previous administration in now stands at more than twenty two trillion dollars annual deficits are continuing to rise and will exceed a trillion dollars a year and it's projected that interest payments on the national debt will exceed military spending by 2024 Washington has a spending problem and it endangers the future prosperity of our nation for generations to come this budget contains that nearly 2.7 trillion dollars in savings more spending reductions proposed than any Administration in history this budget will balance in 15 years last year President Trump directed federal agencies to me target of a 5% reduction to non-defense discretionary spending I'm proud to report to you today that we have achieved that target in terms of the economy our GDP grew by 3.1 percent over the four quarters of fiscal year 2018 while many claims we were guilty of wishful wishful thinking we've met our economic forecasts two years in a row the first administration to ever do that we are confident that the president's historic tax reforms deregulation trade policy policy unleashing American energy will continue our economic growth economic policies in this budget will generate more than enough revenue to pay for the costs of the tax cut fiscal year 2020 President's budget outlines a number of key priorities for the administration to continue to pursue the budget supports public and private school choice through a federal tax credit of up to fifty billion dollars over ten years while this administration has made major progress towards streamlining our infrastructure permitting we continue to request an additional two hundred billion dollars to lever up to a trillion dollars in total spending it's the government's responsibility to protect the American people the homeland and the American Way of life the budget request 750 billion dollars for our national defense and to be clear this is not funding for endless wars this is for research and development and procurement to fund the most awe-inspiring military the world has ever known in addition federal resources and frontline defenders are overwhelmed at the southern border in the fiscal year 2020 budget provides sizeable funding of an eight point six billion dollars for full completion of the wall and other border security resources in terms of other major reforms the administration is proposing uniform work requirements for Medicaid TANF snap or food stamps in certain housing programs we can help low-income families and end dependency on government benefits by strengthening work requirements the administration also wants to lower drug cost the budget proposes a drug pricing strategy that it's American patients first promotes generics and reduces out-of-pocket costs this administration has also identified a number of wasteful inefficient programs for example we can save hundreds of millions of dollars by right sizing and reforming the underperforming programs like Job Corps a residential youth training program that has made headlines in recent years for the number of security incidents at the facilities or take the 600 million dollars that we spend at 85 different cultural exchange programs at the Department of State despite the fact that only 1% of the 1 million students that come to this country to study ever benefited from that program and the fact that at the State Department these programs doubled in the last 10 to 15 years this budget is yet another fiscally responsible and comments and spending plan from President Trump the president has continually called for fiscal restraint and will persist in his efforts to end the wasteful spending thank you everyone and with that I'm ready to take some questions John there were concerns by some budget watchdogs that money that's in the overseas contingency operations budget will end up building a barrier on the southern border can you allayed concerns of some of these folks that none of that money would be used to build a barrier we do not request any OCO money overseas counterinsurgency money for the for the purchasing of for the completion of the wall we do have emergency spending that we devote to it and we continue to continue the military rebuild by asking for what's necessary to complete the wall that does include military construction funding so what we vote we do is we both backfill in fiscal year 19 any funding that is used in military construction and we in fiscal year 2020 we ask for Congress to appropriate these dollars one of the question about defense very aggressive it also calls the budget also calls for purchase of eight f-15s and there are concerns that you're going to lower the number of f-35s that you bought and what what's the fifteen we go along the lines of what the Defense Department has requested with their five-year defense program it's an allocation of different planes including the f-35 and the f-18 Super Hornets so this is something that has been requested by the military and we think it's something that will make sense when that when Congress considers that John two questions one you mention what the president promised during the campaign during the campaign he also promised that he would eliminate the national debt within eight years and as you know that at the end of his first year was a twenty trillion last year it went to twenty one trillion last month twenty two trillion so what happened to that promise I mean the president has added historically large numbers to the national debt instead of keeping a promise to actually pay it off look again the last administration nearly doubled the national debt and when this president ran for office he made a commitment to the American people that he would attempt to tackle the debt within eight years this president did that the very first year that he came to office by sending forth a budget that balanced within ten years and had more spending reductions than any in history that is who truly had more than two trillion today he also came into office and had an economic recovery that was needed to put people back to work get the economy going and to rebuild the military and had historic levels of military at seven hundred and seven hundred sixteen billion dollars in national defense dollars at the same time Congress has been ignoring the president's spending reductions for the last two years it's only now in our third budget that they're willing to have a conversation about the national debt we've been trying to have it since that we got to office the president is putting forward these reductions he's putting forward a 5% cut to non-defense discretionary spending he's putting forward reforms to mandatory programs that are on autopilot while keeping his commitment to American seniors by not making changes to Medicare in Social Security two quick questions one to go back to to drill down a little bit on what John Karl asked if if the deficit is such a problem why not at least cut the rate of increase to the defense and the defense budget and secondly he has said promises kept but we're cutting Medicare how does that keep his promise to the American people he's not cutting Medicare in this budget what we are doing is putting forward reforms that lower drug prices that because Medicare pays is a very large share of drug prices in this country has the impact of finding savings we're also finding waste fraud and abuse but Medicare spending will go up every single year by healthy margins and there are no structural changes for Medicare beneficiaries offense budget the why not at least cut the rate of increase if the deficit is such a concern it's in the trillions why not cut it increase because he's the commander in chief and he thinks it's important to secure the country is one of his most basic constitutional responsibilities the the military put forward a five-year defense plan it was done over a series of years about the needs which gets back to John's question we are going along with that five-year defense plan in addition we're putting additional dollars towards the military construction funds that we have tapped Fred yeah yeah one just two major drivers and long-term spending which is the baseline budgeting and entitlement spending in general and secondly this seems maybe a little bit more ambitious in terms of savings and previous budget she's proposed and I wonder why that would be since you're now dealing with a Democratic House or it's very in line with previous budgets we balanced in 15 years we our first budget balanced in 10 one of the reasons that we were unable to balance quicker is because it gets harder each and every year that Congress doesn't go along with our spending reductions you mentioned mandatory spending it is a driver we have more reforms in any president's budget in history but look what has happened for far too long is that Congress has blamed mandatory spending and then increased discretionary spending which they have a vote on every single year by a large degrees they continue to let a paradigm exist in this country that says for every dollar in defense spending we're going to increase non-defense spending by $1 we think we need to break that paradigm we don't think that that paradigm allows us to be able to get our fiscal house in order thanks Russ realistically the administration is not going to get eight point six billion dollars to our wall funding and through this budget are there other executive actions that you have been looking at in order to pursue but despite the national emergency being declared and the Treasury asset forfeiture and the drug enforcement dollars that you could use in order to continue to fill the additional funding that you say is necessary for the wall right now we are focused on spending the money that Congress gave us in the last appropriations bill into the the money that we have identified as as part of declaring a national emergency and spending that well and this eight point six billion dollars is geared towards what we would need in addition to complete that wall infrastructure and you proposed a two hundred billion dollar infrastructure this year but last year there were cuts to other programs that caused would have caused a net decrease to infrastructure spending so would there be a net increase in infrastructure spending under this budget what most people refer to when they look and make that that that assertion is they're looking at the fact that the trust fund it has it doesn't have enough revenues coming into it this budget included looks at the baseline and assumes that that's to be the case but we are totally ready and willing to talk with with Congress about how to ensure that there's additional dollars in the federal trust fund and to put forward additional 200 billion dollars in new investment to make sure that it's not just a surface transportation bill that when we need money for broadband or other infrastructure that is also something that we can pursue best thing so it sounds like you're saying that the administration needed to take on deficit spending the first couple years because the economy needed to kick but we also hear from the administration that this is an economy that is roaring right now so with that being the premise how do you square having deficits in 2019 2020 21 and 2022 for years going forward of trillion plus dollar deficits how is that fiscal conservative I would say that we needed deficits when to get the economy starting I would say that we put forward spending reductions that were aimed at a balanced budget and we have each and every year that we do have large deficits that's why we're here transparently saying that we have a problem as a country that it takes a long time to get out of that mess we came into office and face ten and a half trillion dollars right off the bat and instead of being with us and considering our proposals and allowing us to make the factual case for why the American people would be better off under these reforms Congress just hasn't been willing to play ball even though they have the power of the purse just to pick up on that real quick it seems like one of the ways you're trying to go at it is by reducing non-defense discretionary spending defense spending over the next ten years seven point seven trillion but non-defense discretionary five trillion do you really believe that Congress is going to yank spending down that significantly over the next decade we believe that every budget is an opportunity to put forward our vision of the next ten years we are doing that in this budget and we are saying to the American people we can no longer afford the paradigm that Congress keeps giving us which is that we're never going to make any trade-offs that we're never gonna align what we spend with what we take in that we're not going to do what every family does across the country and trying to figure out what they can afford before they go out and spend so yes we are trying to say that we need to continue to secure the country we need to continue to secure the border we're not going to be bashful about that but at the same time we're also going to say that we have many many programs that are wasteful and inefficient that we can no longer afford follow me I'm sorry rusty jerk you can be mean I don't love Ups to these disease welfare reform and snap how much money is be posed for welfare that was mafia the world initiative with job training and also with snap what are the lessons learned that you're trying to guess reshape this harvest box proposal because it came under great criticism before and now you're proposing it again could you talk about those two issues it did receive criticism but we thought those criticisms were unmerited and we're not gonna walk away from the proposal as it pertains to the harvest box look we think it's there's nothing wrong with putting forward a reform that says in addition to your normal food stamp spending that benefits that you would get at the retail that you would get a harvest box that allows you to get a more balanced meal and to save money to the taxpayers at the same time in terms of work requirements it's something that has long been viewed as a success since the 1990s we expand on it it is something that we have long viewed as important to be able to say take the same principles of reducing dependency that we saw in TANF and then apply them to housing and to into food stamps and to Medicaid there's some people that slip through the cracks and they may need job training are there funds proposed for job training if you're gonna do this welfare to work absolutely the Department of Labor is is full is receives an adequate amount of funding in an era where we have one trillion dollar deficits there will be many many workforce development programs that are funded as part of this budget a lot of the discussion has been in terms of the federal debt but can you address the federal unfunded liabilities where does that number stand right now and what does this budget do to address you know that much larger number look we have a lot of debts as a country we're trying to take it on head-on we're trying to say that 22 trillion dollars is not acceptable that we can't go forward with trillion dollars every single year and that the way to start doing that is to pursue the types of reforms where we think that there the American people will have an opportunity to see how their lives would be better off as under our proposals we do that in federal retirement benefits we do that in student loans we do that in welfare reforms we think that in each one of these scenarios we're going to be able to encourage the kind of conversation that allows us to get our house in order lastly quick comment we extend our prayers to the loved ones and friends and family of those killed in the tragic crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight et 3:02 at least eight US citizens were among the victims we're working with the government of Ethiopia and Ethiopian Airlines to offer all possible assistance with that I will take your questions sir president the president said that Democrats hate Jewish people according to a recent report we've also seen him tweet in the last a couple of days the Democrats are the quote anti Jewish party does the president really believe Democrats hate Jews look the president's been an unwavering and committed ally to Israel and the Jewish people and frankly the remarks that have been made by a number of Democrats and failed to be called out by Democrat leadership is frankly abhorrent and it's sad and it's something that should be called by name it shouldn't be put in a watered-down resolution that should be done the way the Republicans did it when Steve King made terrible comments we called it out by name we stripped him of his committee memberships and we'd like to see Democrats follow suit first of all you mentioned Steve King the president correct me if I'm wrong has not condemned the UK raising white supremacy as the president publicly come out and said anything on a number of topics and I've talked about that a number of times and I'd refer you back to those comments where I used words like abhorrent and unacceptable we're getting some word that the president plans to nominate Patrick Shanahan leader this week to be the Secretary of Defense elevating him from the acting position can you tell us whether or not that is going to happen I'm not going to make any personnel announcements at this time I can't tell you that the president has a great deal of respect for acting defense secretary Shanahan he likes them and when the president's ready to make an announcement on that front he certainly was there are a lot of acting's in the administration these days any possibility of removing acting from Mick Mulvaney style certainly a lot of possibility there some of the reason that we have acting's is because we're waiting on the confirmation process at least for a couple of those folks and we hope that that moves forward Tara I wanted to follow up on what the latest of China is has the president made an offer for mar-a-lago date and there's also some reports that the Chinese feel the president's an unreliable negotiating partner after walking out on let me start with the first one in terms of whether or not we have a date set not yet we're continuing to negotiations with China when we have an announcement for the two leaders to sit down I would say that's absurd the president's gonna make a deal if it's a good deal he's gonna make a deal if it's in the best interest of America and if he doesn't feel like it's a good deal it's not worth just signing a piece of paper and the president didn't feel like what was on the table was enough the president's 100% committed to denuclearization of the peninsula and he's gonna make sure that whatever we do furthers that process we'll see what happens with North Korea the same way we're gonna see what happens in the negotiations with China they're ongoing and the president's gonna make sure whatever deal we get is in our best interest that it's fair and reciprocal trade that it protects our intellectual property and that it actually has safeguards to make sure that the Chinese follow through with whatever commitments that they make does the president have any plans to speak with President Xi over the phone I'm not aware of any scheduled calls but if we have any we'll certainly keep you posted is that the most likely step here event that they speak on the phone beforehand or is it possible that these two still meet at the end of the month we're gonna keep everything on the table again negotiations are ongoing the president's team as well as the Chinese delegation continue conversations and when they feel like it's time for the two leaders to sit down we'll make that happen no thanks sir I haven't used the day question but I didn't get asked my budget questions before so can I do miss a big moment I forgot all the details of it all right so in in the budget the way that I see it and there's a lot of pages to go through it keeps referring to Western Hemisphere with regards to the speech spent foreign aid spending but nothing specifically about Central America the president said that he wants to cut money to Central America in fact you could cut it all is that in the budget I don't have any specific update on that front I don't think there's a different part votes coming up this week in the Senate on the resolution with regards to the national emergency what is the president doing to stop a rebellion among the Republican senators we know that a rising number been reported as many as 10 or 15 to vote against that what's the president doing about that he's doing his job he's doing what Congress should be doing he took an oath of office and he has a constitutional duty to protect the people of this country we have a humanitarian and national security crisis at our border and the president's doing his job in addressing it he gave Congress a number of opportunities to actually address it and they failed to do so so the president is taking his constitutional authority that Congress granted him let's not forget the only reason he has the authority to call a national emergency is because Congress gave him the right to do so they failed to do their job the president's fulfilling his duty he's gonna make sure he does what is necessary to protect the people of this country secure our borders call he that he might be taking with senators who he believes would be voting for that resolution certainly we talked in a number of members every single day certainly at the presidential and the staff level and we're gonna continue to engage with them in this process Sarah sir the administration specifically doing to look into sexually Acosta's role in these secretly teal for Jeffrey Epstein those the president of any misgivings about the building its top official in the school that's currently under review because of that I can't get into a lot of specifics but we're certainly looking at it so I have a question for you but I also have a follow-up to a colleague because I didn't hear you actually answer the question so yes or no does the president truly believe that Democrats hate Jews I am NOT gonna comment on a potentially leaked our game and I can tell you what I can tell you think Democrats hate Jewish people as he say on this out I think they've had a lot of opportunities over the last few weeks because dim so the foreign comments I'm trying to answer if he'd stop talking I'll finish my statement yes the president has had and laid out clearly his position on this matter Democrats have had a number of opportunities to condemn specific comments and have refused to do that that's a question frankly I think you should ask Democrats what their position is since they're unwilling to call this what it is and call it out by name and take actual action against members who have done things like this is like the Republicans have done when they had the same opportunity that's about the whole metaphor but I just want to be very clear you're not answering the question is there a reason believe I answered it twice you didn't say yesterday doesn't it really believe Democrats hate Jews I'm just trying to get a sense of that any that's a question you want to ask the Democrats let me ask you about Paul Manafort why Hatton obviously Paul Manafort goes for the second half of dissenting this week why hasn't the president ruled out a pardon for Paul Matt Oporto the president has made his position on that clear and he'll make a decision when he's ready on on pardons last week the president tweeted that Michael Cohen quote directly asked me for a party when did that happen was that when colt was Cohen here at the white house and came into the Oval Office as the president for a pardon it happened on the phone do you have a date not gonna get into specifics of things that are currently under review by the Oversight Committee and other committees what I can tell you is that Cohen's own attorney stated and contradicted his client when he said that he was aware that those conversations had taken place we know that Michael Cohen lied to Congress prior to his testimony most recently and we know that he's lied at least twice in that hearing I think that it's time to stop giving him a platform let him go on to serve his time and let's move forward with matters on budget questions just to put it on the record there's a lot of people in the country want to know is there anything in the president's 2020 budget request that has Mexico paying for the wall as the president has stated a number of times through the USMC a trade deal that we look forward to getting passed soon that'll be part of how that takes place John thank you Sarah brief questions following up on John's personnel question does the president have full confidence in secretary Acosta or is the labor secretary possibly leaving I'm not aware of any personnel changes but again those things are currently under review when we have an update a lot you know the other question is is the president in discussion about signing an executive order to undo executive order one three one six six President Clinton's executive order president clinton's executive order 19 years ago requiring multiple languages a new executive order I am told would make English the official language in government I'm not aware of a specific executive order that's been drafted but that is the position of the White House Jim yes the president asked very on to intervene or block eighties merger with Time Warner and I'm not aware of any conversations around that matter and just to get back to to John and Alex question about the president's comments about Democrats and Jewish people isn't that kind of rhetoric just sort of beneath everybody and do you think that the president has thought at all going into this 20/20 campaign that the rhetoric just needs to be lowered whether it's talking about Democrats media immigrants or should we just plan on hearing the president used the same kind of language that we heard in 2016 and all through the first couple of years of this administration okay I think that they're real shame in all of this is that Democrats are perfectly capable of coming together and agreeing on the fact that they're comfortable ripping babies straight from a mother's womb or killing a baby after birth but they have a hard time condemning the type of comments from congresswoman Omar I think that is a great shame the president has been clear on what his position is certainly what his support is for the people in the community of Israel and beyond that I don't have anything the debate when you're you're saying something that's just patently untrue I mean obviously in their policy positions but never crash don't but Democrats don't hate Jewish people it's just silly it's not true I think they should call out their members by name and we've made that clear I don't have anything very very April president the president you know sorry Jim apron after Charles was saying that there are very fine people on both sides in Charlottesville essentially suggesting that there are very fine people in the Nazis that's not the president was saying but then not not at any point the president has been incredibly clear and consistently and repeatedly condemned hatred bigotry racism in all of its forms whether it's an America or anywhere else and to say otherwise is simply untrue April asking two questions that's kind of a long road to asking since the President did say that in Charlottesville some very fine people on both sides has he in your opinion or has he or us if I don't remember it condemned the neo-nazis in Charlottesville for their actions against the Jewish American city the president has condemned neo-nazis and called them by name which is what we are asking Democrats to do when they see the same type of hatred sorry I think can we can we expect to have briefings more often now since they've been a little changing atmosphere here I haven't noticed a change in the atmosphere I know that the president's the most accessible president in modern history I know that he takes questions from you guys nearly every single day and on days he doesn't sometimes I do it from here we answer hundreds of questions from reporters all over the world every day we're going to continue to do that sometimes we'll do it from this room sometimes we'll do it other venues another platform in the new spending of blueprint beyond why do they only be include money the Yucca Mountain I'm sorry can you say a little water yes I can why did the OMB include money for the Yucca Mountain waste nuclear waste repository and what are the chances it's in it's in your puppy or spending blueprint and what are the chances that Congress will actually enact that I think that the chances that Congress will do its job based on historical precedent over the last couple of months are probably unlikely but that doesn't mean we're not hopeful that they will work with us look for ways that we can reduce spending and grow protect our military do things like that that which you see in the President's budget we'd love for them to work with us on that what about what the thinking was to put that in I'm aware of any specific policy changes on that front or anything on there I'll let you know if we have something one last question follows Sara why did the president write a check to Michael Cullen for $35,000 in August of 2017 while he was here in the White House what was that money for I'm not aware of those specifics he specifically used the president of engaging in a conspiracy to conceal campaign finance violations he presented the check the president's been clear that there wasn't a campaign violation beyond that I can't get it you didn't know about beyond thank you again I would refer you back to the president's comments that's not something I'm a part of and I would refer you to the president's outside counsel beyond his comments during his time at the White House is the White House deny that the president is individual one I'm sorry individual one in the Southern District again I'm not gonna comment on that and on an ongoing case that's not something I would be a part of here at the White House and I would refer you to outside counsel what I can tell you is the president has stated his position and made it clear thanks.

white house press briefing by sarah sanders 03.11.19

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