Trump’s budget plan: More campaign rhetoric than reality

Trump’s budget plan: More campaign rhetoric than reality

The president’s proposal lays down the priorities for his re-election campaign but will hurt US public finances.

Donald Trump released a budget proposal Monday for increased spending on the military and his controversial U.S.-Mexico border wall, while overhauling social safety-net programs, yet it is highly unlikely to become law.

It will probably, however, live on in his 2020 re-election campaign.

The $4.7 trillion plan was immediately attacked by Democrats, who control the House of Representatives and have already blocked Trump’s push for border wall funding in a standoff that led to a five-week government shutdown late last year.

Trump has asked for $8.6 billion to build a wall on the border with Mexico–more than six times what Congress granted Trump for border projects in each of the past two years, and 6% more than he has put together by invoking emergency powers so far this year.

It also includes proposals to overhaul Medicare, Medicaid and other costly social programs.

The debt bubble

Yet the budget notably fails to address reducing the federal deficit or the national debt, issues traditionally considered as priorities for the Republicans.

Tax cuts, rather than deficit reduction, have been the priority for the Republican White House and Congress in the past two years. The deficit ran to $900 billion in 2019 and the national debt has ballooned to $22 trillion.

Despite the political impossibility of the plan, Acting administration budget chief Russell Vought will defend Trump’s plan before the House Budget Committee on Tuesday.

“This budget contains nearly $2.7 trillion in savings, more spending reductions proposed than any administration in history,” Vought told reporters at the White House on Monday. “This budget will balance in 15 years.”

Democrats naturally saw it differently.

“President Trump has somehow managed to produce a budget request even more untethered from reality than his past two,” said Democratic U.S. Representative Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Put simply, the plan, like Trump’s last two budget proposals, is dead on arrival yet will be a useful weapon as he prepares to seek re-election next year, laying out the differences in perspective and priorities between himself and his Democratic opponent.

Time running out  

The importance of a deal of some sort being made in Congress on government spending are high this year.

On Oct. 1, a deadline arrives for lifting the federal debt limit. Failure to resolve the issue could risk an economically damaging U.S. default.

The Committee for a Responsible Budget said Trump’s budget would add $10.5 trillion to the debt over a decade, and criticized the White House for what it called a “fantasy assumption” of 3% economic growth over that timeframe.

House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth said House Democrats would put out their own budget proposal in April and that he hoped for a deal with the Senate in due course.

“The ingredients … are there to make a reasonable deal,” he said, adding that “the White House is the wild card.”

2019-03-22T18:10:34+00:00

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Paul Imison
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