Trump has released his first budget proposal. It is the most radical budget proposal ever offered by a president in the last seven million years…give or take. The reactions are predictable…and curious.
First, the predictable: in no way, shape or form will the budget finally authorized by congress look anything like this.
Some of President Trump’s best friends in Congress sharply criticized his first budget Thursday, with defense hawks saying the proposed hike in Pentagon spending wasn’t big enough, while rural conservatives and others attacked plans to cut a wide range of federal agencies and programs.
Not enough spending, congress says. Tell me something new.
Now, the curious. What else can be said of the budget? There are a lot of bad things in it. Increased military spending and building a wall come to mind. Whoop-de-do. A president of the United States proposes increased spending.
I'm shocked, shocked to find that increased spending is going on in here!
We see such a reaction from Reason’s Nick Gillespie:
The blueprint, which doesn't engage with entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security and other forms of "mandatory" spending at all, simply balances cuts to various parts of the government with increases to the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security…. Overall federal spending will still come in around $4 trillion.
A minarchist would suggest that about $500 billion could do. Me? Zero.
Let's call this what it is: Unacceptable.
Every budget proposed by every president is “unacceptable” – do we just keep recycling, once a year, the same editorial?
No reductions to Social Security or Medicare. I get it. Federal spending is unsustainable at some point with these two programs as they are. But today isn’t that day.
For those who hope for rationality from a government unconstrained by honest money, I will suggest: get off of that turnip truck. There is only one thing that will change the trajectory of federal spending: loss of appetite for US Treasuries.
On the other hand, Trump gets something right; the first president in my lifetime to get it. There are only two ways to cut spending: actually cut spending (and not merely reduce the rate of growth) and eliminate programs. Trump proposes just this:
Washington (CNN) — President Donald Trump unveiled his first budget blueprint on Thursday, and to offset increases in defense spending, the President is proposing $54 billion in cuts to large parts of the federal government and popular programs big and small.
Trump's budget would cut off funding entirely for several agencies, including arts, public broadcasting and development groups, and also proposes steep cuts to agencies like the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency.
Virtually every agency will see some sort of cut, with only Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs getting a boost.
Certainly, I would prefer cuts to Defense and Homeland Security while leaving these peripheral programs untouched, but it is something: significant cuts to last fiscal year’s budget for close to a dozen departments; about thirty programs eliminated.
Look, I get it. as significant a deviation as this proposed budget is, it is all just tinkering around the edges; in the long run, irrelevant. But it cannot be denied that Trump has proposed a budget like no other.
At least (and at most) it will start a discussion. A discussion that has never been held before inside the beltway.