The American Conservative Union on Thursday declared President Donald Trump’s budget proposal a “brave and honest effort to scrutinize everything.” Meanwhile, advocates of radical cuts to federal government’s size and spending say the Trump budget is just more of the same Washington garbage.
“The President’s budget is a solid and sound starting point to begin the process of arriving at an eventual agreement. It’s a brave and honest effort to scrutinize everything,” said ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp said in an email to supporters. “Mick Mulvaney’s conservative approach to fiscal discipline—an approach that earned him a 98% Lifetime ACU Rating as a Member of Congress— is truly returning much-needed ‘management’ to the OMB.”
What followed was list of things Schlapp’s organization likes about the Trump budget:
- A proposed $4.6 trillion in reduced spending over 10 years;
- Avoiding the inflation of available assistance, leaving in place a safety net rather than encouraging dependence;
- Redirecting federal spending to prioritize defense programs while scaling back outdated and redundant domestic programs;
- Addressing the need for increased border security to fix our broken immigration system;
- Fixing a veteran’s benefits system that appropriately honors their service;
- Presenting parents with more educational options for their children;
- An income tax reform plan to boost the economy by broadening the tax base and lowering marginal tax rates; and
- The elimination of the job-killing death tax.
No doubt, all good things. But the key phrase in Schlapp’s earlier statement is “starting point.”
The presidential budget is, as it always has been, a purely political document. It’s simply a statement of what a president would like to see happen if he were king of the world.
Congress controls the money. Schlapp knows that, President Trump knows that… And every lawmaker bitching about anything in the Trump budget knows it too.
That’s why the Libertarians over at Reason Magazine are saying little more than, “Meh.”
Congress will chop the budget apart, keeping the worst aspects in and porking up anything that looks for the moment like a meaningful cut.
Not that Trump’s budget actually cuts government spending on the whole before it’s ever touched.
As Reason’s Nick Gillespie points out:
[W]hat might we expect from Trump’s budget plan? His earlier iteration of his “skinny budget” only covered discretionary spending (a category that accounts for outlays that must be renewed every year and comprises about one-third of all federal spending) didn’t cut overall spending. Yes, it proposed some double-digit trims to various programs and agencies, but it funneled all savings into a bigger defense budget.
Since 2008, overall spending levels have been north of 20 percent of GDP, which is considerably higher than the historical average for the last 50-plus years of the postwar 20th century. There’s no reason to believe that Trump will put a stop to that, especially since he has promised not to touch the major drivers of government spending, Social Security and Medicare. Neither of those plans is self-sustaining, so each require larger and larger subsidies from taxpayers, especially as more and more baby boomers hit the Depends years. While USA Today and others are reporting that Trump will call for massive cuts to Medicaid, most of that will come from recent increases tied to expansions under Obamacare. Yet a huge amount of Medicaid actually goes to pay for longtime care for elderly people and won’t be affected by Trump’s likely trims.
His takeaway for folks wanting to see meaningful cuts: Prepare to be disappointed.
Are you prepared for disappointment? Let us know in the comments below.
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