President Trump on Wednesday asked his Cabinet to find a way to cut their agencies by 5 percent, and signaled he wants a leaner, trimmer government after a two-year spending deal that saw defense and domestic spending rise.
"I'm going to ask everybody to come back with a 5 percent for our next meeting," Trump said in a White House meeting with his Cabinet members. "I think you'll all be able to do it."
Trump's order comes amid growing worry among conservatives about rising federal spending. He said he "made deals with the devil" before signing a $1.3 trillion spending package in March that boosted both domestic and military spending, but said he was now determined to reduce spending.
"I made deals with the devil in order to get that done because we had to improve our military, our military was depleted," he said. "Get rid of the fat, get rid of the waste, and I'm sure you can do it, I'm sure everybody in this table can do it. It will have a huge impact."
Trump indicated that even the Defense Department would be cut, but that it may not face the full 5 percent reduction. When asked how defense would be affected, he said he thought DOD's budget would be about $700 billion — roughly a 2 percent drop from the current $716 billion.
But he said other agencies might be able to do more.
"If you can do more than 5 ... some of you will say, 'Hey, I can do much more than 5,'" Trump said.
Trump said he has heard of the so-called "penny plan" for years, under which the government would cut a penny for every dollar it spends. He called his idea the "nickel plan."
"Rather than go by the penny plan, call it the nickel plan. It will be a one-year nickel plan, we may do another nickel plan next year, too," Trump said.
Ahead of Trump's request, the White House Office of Management and Budget circulated an estimate that said Trump administration regulation cuts have saved "American families and businesses" an estimated $23 billion, though the OMB did not offer related savings to the government.