|BY JAMES HOHMANN|
|with Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve|
The Washington Post, February 12, 2018
Many of his proposals are dead on arrival in Congress, but the blueprintnonetheless speaks volumes about the president’s values – and contradicts many promises he made as a candidate.
“This is a messaging document,” Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters at the White House.
Here are eight messages that the White House sends with its wish list:
1. Touching third rails he said he wouldn’t:
As a candidate, Trump repeatedly said he would never cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.
Now he proposes cutting Medicare by $554 billion and Medicaid by around $250 billion over the next decade.
2. Scaling back support for the forgotten man:
Many displaced blue-collar workers in the Rust Belt took the president at his word when he promised to bring back their manufacturing jobs. But Trump’s budget calls for cutting funding for National Dislocated Worker Grants – which provides support to those who lose their jobs because of factory closures or natural disasters — from $219.5 million in 2017 to $51 million in 2019.
Also at the Labor Department, the president wants to slash support for the Adult Employment and Training Activities initiative, which serves high school dropouts and veterans, from $810 million last year to $490 million in 2019.
3. Giving up on a balanced budget:
Trump repeatedly promised that he would balance the budget “very quickly.” It turns out that a guy who has often described himself as the “king of debt” didn’t feel that passionately about deficits. Last year, he laid out a plan to balance the budget in 10 years. This year he didn’t even try. Trump now accepts annual deficits that will run over $1 trillion as the new normal.
Going further, the president also promised on the campaign trail that he’d get rid of the national debt altogether by the end of his second term. But his White House now projects that the national debt, which is already over $20 trillion, will grow more than $2 trillion over the next two years and by at least $7 trillion over the next decade.
4. Relying on fuzzy math:
Trump’s team knows full well that they’ll never get most of the spending cuts they’re proposing, but they’re using them to make the deficit look less bad than it really is. Just last Friday, the president signed into law an authorization bill that blows up the sequester and increases spending by more than $500 billion.
The White House also makes the unrealistic assumption that the economy will grow by more than 3 percent every year between now and 2024, which makes its projections for revenue growth rosier than they should be. No serious economist thinks that level of growth can be sustained. A recession seems probable in the next decade.
5. Paying for tax cuts that mostly benefit the rich by cutting holes in the safety net for the poor:
In 1999, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush denounced a House Republican plan to save $8 billion by deferring tax credit payments for low-income people. “I don't think they ought to balance their budget on the backs of the poor,” he said at a campaign stop. “I'm concerned for someone who is moving from near-poverty to middle class.”
This is a budget for the haves. The have-nots get left behind.
Trump wants to cut $214 billion from the food stamp program in the next decade, a reduction of nearly 30 percent.
The budget cuts 29 programs at the Education Department, many of which are designed to help needy children – including after-school activities to keep kids off the street and a grant program for college students with “exceptional financial need.”
6. Deconstructing the administrative state:
Trump wants to neuter the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by starving it of resources, limiting its enforcement power and changing its funding stream so that it’s more vulnerable to pressure from Wall Street.
He seeks to cut more than $2.5 billion from the annual budget of the Environmental Protection Agency, which is about a quarter of its spending.
7. More guns, less butter:
Make no mistake, Trump is not calling for a reduction in the size of government. He seeks to spend $4.4 trillion next year, up 10 percent from last year. He’s calling for spending less on the homefront to cover a massive military buildup.
Trump asks for $716 billion in defense spending in 2019, a 13 percent increase. “The Trump plan provides more money for just about everything a general or admiral might desire,” Greg Jaffe notes. “The United States already spends more on its military than the next eight nations combined.”
Meanwhile, Trump proposes slashing the State Department’s budget by 23 percent. As Secretary of Defense James Mattis told Congress in 2013, when he was a Marine general leading Central Command: “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.”
8. Leaning in on privatization:
Trump wants to outsource as many public functions as possible to private, for-profit companies.
His budget calls for selling off scores of prized federal assets, from Reagan National and Dulles Airports to the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. “Power transmission assets from the Tennessee Valley Authority; the Southwestern Power Administration, which sells power in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas; (...)
Trump proposes to end funding for the International Space Station after 2024 by privatizing the orbiting laboratory.
Finally, he wants to increase spending by more than $1 billion on privateschool vouchers and other school choice plans while slashing the Education Department’s budget by $3.6 billion and devoting more resources to career training, at the expense of four-year universities.
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