The Trump budget plan boosts school choice, a priority for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. (Al Drago/Bloomberg News) Worried that he had no response to expansive plans from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other Democrats he may face on the ballot next year, Trump in December demanded that aides .
President Trump’s election-year budget offers tax breaks for private school tuition and slashes student loan programs, measures in sharp contrast to Democratic presidential challengers who have been touting free college and debt forgiveness.
At one point Trump had demanded that his aides come up with a bold program to address student debt, sweeping enough to compete with top Democrats in this year’s presidential campaign. But administration officials could not reach consensus on how to do so.
The $4.8 trillion budget plan put forward on Monday instead cuts billions of dollars from the student loan program without pitching any significant new initiatives.
The president’s biggest education push is at the K-12 level. He is asking for a $5 billion tax break to support private school tuition and other educational expenses, an idea that may appeal to conservatives who want to give parents more school choices.
The proposal was included in last year’s budget but failed to pass Congress with Democrats opposed. If adopted, the tax break would represent a significant shift of federal tax money to private education.
Overall, the Trump budget would cut the Education Department’s discretionary spending by 7.8 percent, reducing and consolidating programs across the agency. Funding for 29 education programs, including more than $24 billion in spending, would be replaced with a single block-grant program to states totaling just over $19 billion. The new system would allow states to set their own priorities and would reduce the federal role in education, a longtime goal of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
On Monday, DeVos said the block grant would prioritize local needs, “not the pet projects of Washington politicians or bureaucrats.”