Government & Politics

Trump's Budget Axe Falls on Discretionary Spending

Leftists go apoplectic over about 1% of the federal budget.

Michael Swartz · Mar. 17, 2017

Beltway bureaucrats can’t say they weren’t warned about the number of cars that would be uncoupled from their taxpayer-funded gravy train. As President Donald Trump alluded to in his campaign and promised prior to his address to a joint session of Congress, there are a number of federal agencies that will be subjected to large-scale cuts and 19 that will be shuttered entirely if Trump has his way with the budget.

On the chopping block: The favorite conservative targets of the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Corporation for Public Broadcasting. As the Washington Post screamed, this budget is the “worst-case scenario for arts groups.”

Instead, the Trump proposal is a budget that’s heavy on certain core government issues — you know, constitutionally enumerated powers such as defense and immigration. As previously noted, Trump calls for a $54 billion increase earmarked for defense spending and billions set aside for border security and combating illegal immigration. Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney was tasked with producing a budget “that emphasizes national security and public safety,” and the OMB head has delivered.

It goes without saying that major media outlets, which still buy ink by the barrel, have gone off the rails with angst regarding the Trump budget blueprint — in particular, the aforementioned Washington Post, which caters to the bureaucrats who may soon find themselves in the position of seeking an honest living in the private sector.

But the Post and other media outlets aren’t writing to deliver the facts about the budget; they’re writing to warn Congress about derailing the gravy train that’s in place. Why else would these relatively modest cuts in the grand scheme of a $4 trillion budget be compared to the plans Ronald Reagan had when he first took office? (All we’re missing is Tip O'Neill and his fellow Democrats vowing the budget will be “dead on arrival” in Congress.)

But when a candidate runs on a platform that puts America first, it should surprise no one that defense wins out over foreign aid. Thus, the State Department is subject to a 28% cut. Trump wants to put $1.5 billion into a down payment on a border wall as well, along with funding additional judges to deal with deportations. While the Department of Education as a whole will be leaner to the tune of $9 billion, Trump allocates an extra $1.4 billion to school choice programs.

These are all things the voters who supported Trump demanded. As is the call to bring the Environmental Protection Agency to heel with a cut of almost one-third of its current budget. Addressing so-called “climate change” won’t be a priority item for the Trump administration, and EPA apologists are already claiming Trump’s reductions will make it “easier for polluters to get away with breaking the rules.”

Lefty columnist Eugene Robinson laments, “Trump budgets for a dumber, dirtier America.” Trump probably even hates puppies.

Yet since much of Congress will face the voters before President Trump does, members seem to have a cool reception to the budget proposal. “The administration’s budget isn’t going to be the budget,” noted Senator Marco Rubio, adding that all any president can do is give a suggested blueprint to Congress.

Rubio’s reminder is made evident by the fact that over the last six years Republicans in Congress routinely ignored Barack Obama’s budget proposals. His 2012 offering won exactly zero congressional votes. That gridlock led to government by continuing resolution, with attempts to control spending such as the sequester eventually falling by the wayside along with the debt ceiling. A compromise continuing budget resolution passed last December spared us the prospect of a government shutdown just before Christmas, but that temporary fix will expire at the end of April. So this Trump budget proposal may simply be the opening point of negotiations to deal with that as well as an increase in the debt ceiling.

The overarching question in all this talk about the budget, though, is similar to the one bedeviling congressional Republicans who campaigned for the last eight years on their opposition to ObamaCare only to punt on full repeal after voters put the GOP fully in charge of government. Now that they have a president who’s willing to eliminate many of the agencies the GOP vowed to dismantle if they were put back in power, will they stand up to the media and lobbyists to do so? The answer to that question may dictate whether Trump’s presidency will be a difference-maker or simply the latest in our nation’s drift from freedom and prosperity toward a European-style mediocrity.

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