Tuesday 21 November 2017

Trump plans to cut spending by $10 trillion in big shake-up

New president will promise to rebuild middle classes in inauguration speech

US President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump arrive aboard a US Air Force jet at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, yesterday. Photo: Reuters
US President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump arrive aboard a US Air Force jet at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Ivanka Trump carries her son Theodore Kushner as she steps off the plane. Photo: Getty
The United States Marine Corps Band practices in front of the podium where US President-elect Donald Trump will take the oath of office. Photo: Getty

Ruth Sherlock in Washington

DONALD Trump is considering cutting public spending by up to $10.5 trillion in one of the biggest shake-ups of the US government ever seen.

The 45th president will today pledge to rebuild the nation's middle class in an inauguration speech that will focus on boosting blue-collar jobs and rolling back big government.

Mr Trump will issue a collective call-to-arms to heal America of the problems he identified during his bid for the White House, promising to boost "infrastructure, education and the country's manufacturing base".

But the incoming president has, at the same time, drawn inspiration from Ronald Reagan's 1981 inauguration claim that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem".

"He'll discuss what it means to be an American, the challenges we face, the challenges the middle class face," Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said.

Mr Trump's first address to the nation as president comes as it emerged his transition team has laid out plans to slash the infrastructure of state, using a blueprint calling for some $10.5tn in spending cuts over the next decade.

The expected proposals for cutbacks are so dramatic in size and scope they would fundamentally reshape the workings of government.

Newt Gingrich, the former congressional speaker, said that Mr Trump's small government vision could be best likened to that of Margaret Thatcher.

Mr Trump yesterday swept into Washington on a military jet as he kicked off three days of inaugural festivities, with the city braced for an onslaught of crowds and demonstrators.

Mr Trump was quickly taking on more of the trappings of the presidency, giving a salute to the Air Force officer who welcomed him as he stepped off the jet with wife Melania at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington.

His first stop was a luncheon in a ballroom at his own hotel, where he gave a shout-out to Republican congressional leaders, declaring: "I just want to let the world know we're doing very well together."

House Speaker Paul Ryan, he said, would finally have someone to sign legislation into law.

Then Mr Trump veered into the territory of the unknowable to declare his cabinet selections had "the highest IQ".

Just streets away, the White House was quickly emptying out.

President Barack Obama's schedule was clear beyond his daily briefing and his final weekly lunch with Vice-President Joe Biden.

Vice president-elect Mike Pence, in a tweet, called Inauguration Eve "a momentous day before a historic day", as security barricades and blockades went up around Washington in preparation for today's swearing-in ceremony.

"We are all ready to go to work," Mr Pence said at a morning news conference.

"In fact, we can't wait to get to work for the American people to make it great again."

Outgoing Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson said he would be putting on his "favourite DHS jacket" and taking to the streets to inspect security preparations for the inaugural festivities.

He told MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' that areas where inaugural crowds would congregate would be "extra fortified this year with dump trucks, heavily armoured vehicles to prevent anybody who's not authorised from being in the area from driving something in there".

He said there was "no specific credible threat" related to the inauguration.

Mr Trump's public schedule for the inaugural celebration starts with an afternoon wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery, followed by a welcome concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial ending with fireworks.

The president-elect, who flew to Washington without any press on his plane, was joined on the trip by a gaggle of his children, grandchildren and other members of his extended family.

Also spotted were bags of dresses and formal wear for the coming days' festivities.

At the luncheon, Mr Trump invited his future first lady to speak, and Mrs Trump told the crowd: "Tomorrow we're starting the work," adding that "there's a lot of possibility and a lot to take care of".

Meanwhile, Mr Obama used his final hours in office to launch an attack in Libya that killed more than 80 terrorists, some of whom were believed to be plotting attacks on European soil.

The action was also seen as a parting message to Vladimir Putin about US military power.

The raid by a pair of B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, and drones fitted with hellfire missiles, targeted two camps near Sirte, the former North African stronghold of Isil.

Terrorists were killed shortly after they had been spotted marching in formation, carrying weapons and mortars.

Mr Obama authorised the attack, which was probably his final use of military force, late on Wednesday night.

He also used it to send what one official called a "strategic message" to the Kremlin about the reach of US forces.

The strike came as General Khalifa Haftar, whose Libyan National Army effectively controls most of eastern Libya, was believed to have been lobbying Russia for support, including arms supplies, for over a year.

Gen Haftar, who refuses to recognise the UN-backed government in Tripoli, made two trips to Moscow last year.


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