Analyzing President Trump's Budget
Gabriel Oros, Fiscal Policy Contributor
President Donald Trump has faced a wide array of scrutiny from a large variety of people both on the left and even on the right. Aside from the common complaints from progressives, many conservatives question if Trump is a true conservative. Earlier this week, the Trump Administration released their proposed budget outline for 2018, titled “America First - A Budget Blueprint to Making America Great Again,” and it is very similar to the budget of Ronald Reagan, the father of modern conservatism. Cutting unnecessary spending and increasing defense spending it is what fiscal conservatives are all about.
Considering that the Obama Administration doubled the national debt in just eight years, a cutback on spending seems right for our country and that is exactly what we are seeing here. In his first two months, Trump reduced our national debt by $100 billion while the Obama administration was responsible for contributing $400 billion to it in his first two months alone.
Let’s start with what the administration wants to cut and some notable plans the Trump administration may have for specific departments. From education to the IRS, some departments are facing significant cuts to their budgets. In the Department of Education, Trump proposed scaling back their funds by $9 billion (13%) from this year’s budget, reallocating $1.4 billion to school choice programs, including private and charter schools, as well as vowing to protect federal funding to historically black colleges.
In Health and Human Services, Trump reduced funding by $12.6 billion (16.2%). In Trump’s plan, he outlines that he wishes to implement the 21st Century CURES Act, which focuses on helping people who suffer from mental illness and supporting their families. Trump also plans to invest in fighting substance abuse by providing better substance abuse treatment plans. He also hopes to cut the U.S. Agency for International Development by nearly 29%, cutting their budget by $11 billion, only furthering the isolationist mindset he ran on during his campaign. The IRS even faces reduced funding by $239 million.
Now, what budget increases has the Trump Administration proposed? In the Department of Defense (DOD), Trump wishes to increase their funding by $54 billion (10%), repealing the defense sequestration introduced by the Obama Administration. Furthermore, Homeland Security gets an increase of nearly $3 billion (6.8%). Although the Department of Energy saw a reduction in their funding by $1.7 billion, Trump made sure to increase funding to the National Nuclear Security Administration by 11.4%, which increases our nuclear capabilities. Increasing funds for national defense purposes helps meet a major campaign promise Trump ran on – defeating ISIS.
All in all, Trump’s plan reduces spending from 2017 to 2018 by 0.3%. Although the number seems miniscule, that is a $50 billion reduction resulting in $1.151 trillion budget, even with the increase on national defense.
The media continues to attempt to critique Trump’s actions by commenting on his budget plans. The Washington Post claims Trump’s new plan does not consider the poor. CNN released a video titled “Trump’s first budget: A tough sell in Congress.” Today’s Matt Lauer recently interviewed former president George W. Bush, who publicly stated he did not vote for Trump, and seemingly encouraged Bush criticize President Trump. Bush made a simple observation that we are only a couple of months into his presidency, so let time determine how effective Trump is as president. The media will continue to respond to what Trump has been doing in the White House for these last 60 days, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, this is a proposed plan by the administration given to Congress, who then takes into consideration what the administration wants, goes through intense negotiating processes, and then creates the official budget. Second, a lot of the reduction in funding to specific departments is due to their wasteful spending habits and should not necessarily be interpreted as if they are not important for our country. Lastly, Trump’s plans are closely related to Reagan’s plans, which have been put into effect and have proven to be tremendously successful for our economy. With that in mind, it is imperative that we give President Trump a chance, and do not jump into conclusions.