President Trump unveiled his first budget proposal today, and it's a doozy. In a way I kind of respect the audacity that the president has to go full fiscal conservative here, but the cuts that are being proposed here are nothing short of cruel and unnecessary to the sick and poor. If these presidential budget proposals are meant to be more of a mission statement than actual proposal, it really shows just how disinterested Trump is when it comes to helping out poor working class citizens.
If you want a full overview of this budget proposal, check out Julie Hirschfeld Davis's piece in the New York Times, but here are some of the stand-out numbers from the plan.
- $1.6 billion to start building a border wall on the US/Mexico border
- $25.4 billion/year in defense spending
- 6.8 percent increase in funding for the Department of Homeland Security
Bone Deep Cuts
- $800 billion cut to Medicaid, money which goes out to help the poor, over the next decade
- $192 billion cut to nutritional programs for the poor
- $272 billion cut to all welfare programs
- $72 billion cut to disability benefits
- $57 billion cut to domestic programs outside of military and homeland security
- 31.4 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency
- 29.1 percent cut to the State Department
- 20.5 percent cut to Agriculture
- 19.8 percent cut to Labor
- 16.2 percent cut to Housing and Urban Development
- 12.7 percent cut to Transportation
- 10.9 percent cut to Interior
Hard to deliver promises
- $40 billion savings over a decade by barring undocumented immigrants from collecting the child and dependent care tax credit
- $19 billion over a decade to provide six weeks of paid leave to new parents
There are serious doubts among Democrats and Republicans alike about the viability of this budget to pass in the House. Here are some quotes from Congressman in the Davis piece that show how awful people on both sides of the aisle think this proposal.
From the Republican perspective:
“The politics of this make no sense to me whatsoever, in the sense that the population that brought them to the dance are the populists out there in the Midwest and South who rely on these programs that he’s talking about reducing,” said G. William Hoagland, a former senior Republican congressional budget aide. Referring to Representative Paul D. Ryan, he said: “I don’t see how Speaker Ryan gets anywhere close to 218 votes in the House of Representatives if this is the model. It’s an exercise in futility.”
Shout out to Senator John Cornyn for this quote from an NBC News article by Leigh Ann Caldwell:
Sen. John Cornyn, the second ranking Republican in the Senate, called it "dead on arrival."
"Almost every president's budget proposal is basically dead on arrival, including President Obama's," Cornyn said, making the point that such proposals are more statements of priorities than legislation. He added that Trump's budget "may find a similar fate."
From the Democrats perspective:
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said Monday that the Medicaid cuts would “carry a staggering human cost” and violate Mr. Trump’s campaign promise to address the opioid epidemic.
“Based on what we know about this budget, the good news — the only good news — is that it was likely to be roundly rejected by members of both parties here in the Senate, just as the last budget was,” Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor.
Even Ronald Reagan's former budget director is pessimistic about making so many cuts:
“This budget is dead before arrival, so he might as well be out of town,” said David A. Stockman, a former budget director under President Ronald Reagan.
Mr. Stockman said both political parties had grown comfortable with running large annual budget deficits. “There’s not a snowball’s chance that most of this deep deficit reduction will even be considered in a serious way.”
Bottom Line: The Numbers Don't Add Up
The simple math of Trumps budget plan is off, as explained here by Jonathan Chait for New York Magazine:
Trump has promised to enact “the biggest tax cut in history.” Trump’s administration has insisted, however, that the largest tax cut in history will not reduce revenue, because it will unleash growth. That is itself a wildly fanciful assumption. But that assumption has already become a baseline of the administration’s budget math. Trump’s budget assumes the historically yuge tax cuts will not lose any revenue for this reason — the added growth it will supposedly generate will make up for all the lost revenue.
But then the budget assumes $2 trillion in higher revenue from growth in order to achieve balance after ten years. So the $2 trillion from higher growth is a double-count. It pays for the Trump cuts, and then it pays again for balancing the budget. Or, alternatively, Trump could be assuming that his tax cuts will not only pay for themselves but generate $2 trillion in higher revenue. But Trump has not claimed his tax cuts will recoup more than 100 percent of their lost revenue, so it’s simply an embarrassing mistake.
If you need a visual representation of how the math does not add up, here's a piece by Philip Bump in the Washington Post that includes charts.
There's not a lot to like about this budget if you are a Republican or Democrat concerned with hammering out a realistic federal budget. The President was so unconfident about the proposal that he had a nine day trip overseas planned for the week this thing was going to drop. This proposal reads more like Paul Ryan fanfiction than a helpful proposal for legislation. There's a real fight coming in US Politics about the federal budget, but it won't look anything like the proposal that the president has laid out here.