Trump’s budget: Fulfilling his promises?
So much for that return to Greatness, said Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post. If the budget plan President Trump released last week is any guide, his new goal is to make the nation “dumber, dirtier, hungrier, and sicker.” Predictably titled “America First,” this brutal document calls for a 9 percent boost in annual defense spending, paid for with deep cuts to almost everything else. Trump is proposing a staggering 31 percent cut in funding to the Environmental Protection Agency and a 28 percent cut to the State Department (see Talking Points), and would also deeply slash funding for foreign aid, medical and scientific research, and anti-poverty programs that provide free meals to schoolchildren and the elderly. Trump would entirely eliminate funding for National Public Radio, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the National Endowment for the Arts, thus sticking it to those “fancy-dancy ‘elites’” that Trump and his supporters so despise. The good news, said Michael Cohen in The Boston Globe, is that Trump’s “dystopian budget is going nowhere.” Congress, the Senate in particular, will never approve such “cataclysmic” cuts to popular programs. But this is a useful document nonetheless. It tells us “everything we need to know about the cruel, heartless man sitting in the Oval Office.”
Spending cuts are always painful, said Ed Rogers in Washington Post.com, but what choice do we have when every man, woman, and child in the nation is currently on the hook for $166,000 of our $19 trillion national debt? The reality is that “we just can’t afford to keep spending at the rate that we are.” Trump’s budget is “a gutsy document,” said Stephen Moore in Spectator.org. He wants to “surgically remove trillions of dollars of wasteful spending,” knowing it will make him a target of the “hordes of special interest groups that populate Washington.” The pushback from those groups, the welfare state, and the liberal media has already begun, but fiscal conservatives “couldn’t be more pleased.”
What cuts? said Nick Gillespie in Reason.com. Yes, this budget “takes a hacksaw if not a chainsaw to various federal departments.” But “overall federal spending will still come in around $4 trillion,” roughly the same as in President Obama’s last budget plan, and with nearly the same deficit: $559 billion. Worse, for those of us who actually care about our spiraling national debt, Trump’s budget does nothing to curb spending on Medicare, Social Security, and the other entitlement programs, which everyone knows are where the real money is. Trump promised during his campaign to completely wipe out the national debt, but “he hasn’t even really thrown a good first punch.”
The goal of this budget is not to wipe out the deficit, said WashingtonExaminer.com in an editorial. Nor is Trump saying that medical research is a bad thing, or that children should go hungry. He’s just establishing the conservative principle that some activities are better handled by the private sector, or by “a level of government closer to the individual.” That’s giving Trump far too much credit for having a guiding philosophy, said Doyle McManus in LATimes.com. This hastily written budget is just a list of cuts to programs Trump doesn’t like, with plenty of funding for ones that he does, including $2 billion to start building his unnecessary border wall. With Congress in Republican hands, Trump has a golden opportunity to downsize federal spending and make it more efficient. This incoherent budget, however, would suggest that it’s “an opportunity Trump is determined to miss.”