James Shott / May 30, 2017

Trump's Budget Positives

Predictably, Democrats burst forth to condemn the budget, decrying his "cuts" for the poor and needy.

President Donald Trump released his first budget proposal last week, while he was on his first overseas trip visiting Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican and NATO. Trump’s $4.1 trillion budget plan is titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness.”

Predictably, upon its release Democrats burst forth to condemn the budget. A couple of congressional Democrats eagerly, and with as much flourish as they could muster, termed the proposal “dead on arrival” which, like so much of what they say, is much ado about nothing. Every budget proposal from every president is “dead on arrival,” the word “proposal” being the operative word. A president’s proposal is merely his desired starting point.

Since you can’t change the channel without seeing the negative coverage of everything Trump says or does, this article will summarize the positive elements of the proposal.

First, House Speaker Paul Ryan said in support of the budget plan, “We can finally turn the page on the Obama era of bloated budgets that never balance.” Furthermore, he said, “President Trump has proven his commitment to fiscal responsibility with a budget that … prioritizes American taxpayers over bureaucrats in Washington.”

Regarding budgeted income redistribution, White House budget Director Mick Mulvaney notes, “There’s not a single thing [cut] from Social Security or Medicare. Why? Because that’s what [President Trump] promised.” However, other programs such as Medicaid and food stamps will see cuts — which, of course, has leftists screaming about Trump supposedly robbing the poor.

“We look at spending differently,” Mulvaney explained. “We are not going to measure compassion by the number of programs or [the number of] people on them.” How refreshing after eight years of being told the only good thing in the world is a government handout.

Trump’s proposal focuses on national defense areas by boosting spending on the military and border security. Focusing on national defense through restoring the military and tightening our borders are badly needed corrections to critical failures and strategic objectives of Barack Obama’s administration. The last eight years saw serious weakening of the military and policies that encouraged illegal entry into the country.

While Obama foolishly reduced the size and strength of all military forces, the Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano wrote two years ago, “[The] most neglected of all U.S. national security elements are our strategic forces. Here, President Obama has reined in development and deployment of ballistic missile defenses,” and “cut all advanced missile defense programs designed to keep the United States ahead of the ballistic missile threat in the future.” And, “to curry favor with Russia, he pulled the plug on planned missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, simultaneously alienating those allies while displaying weakness to Moscow.”

The plan addresses the dangerously high national debt of nearly $20 trillion. It takes a fiscally responsible approach aimed at beginning the process of reducing the large annual deficits to zero in 10 years, and perhaps produce a relatively small surplus by 2027.

While this year’s deficit will be a little higher than last year’s, the initiatives contained in the plan will turn the habit of annual deficits around, if they are successful. Trump depends upon producing growth in our economy. Although many economists say his goals are too optimistic, that doesn’t mean his proposals won’t free the economy to grow more than it did over the last eight years.

Trump’s budget depends on major modifications to the tax system. His plans include reducing individual income tax brackets from seven to three with rates of 10%, 25% and 35%, and eliminating many tax breaks to balance the loss of income to the Treasury from lower tax rates. His corporate tax rate cuts likewise would lay a foundation for growth.

Lower rates are a good thing; they leave taxpayers with more spendable dollars, which increases consumer spending and spurs economic activity that produces jobs. New jobs produce additional taxpayers and increase tax collections. It’s so simple it’s no wonder leftists have such a hard time understanding it.

Big-government types believe cuts in federal spending are always a bad thing. But cuts can be made without hurting people who truly need the government payments they receive.

The Trump proposal cuts almost $3.6 trillion from an array of benefit programs, domestic agencies and war spending over the coming decade, including Medicaid, student loan subsidies, food stamps, and the highway formula for the states. And yet, “We are not kicking anybody off any program who needs it,” said Mulvaney, who explained that the proposal doesn’t cut Medicaid, just grows it more slowly over 10 years.

Cutting “waste, fraud and abuse” is a favorite trope of politicians from both sides of the political aisle. But that doesn’t mean such waste is a fantasy. Rather, it accounts for billions of dollars of federal spending annually that accomplishes nothing.

GovTechWorks.com reports on federal estimates: “Improper payments account for about 5 cents of every Medicaid dollar … or about $29.1 billion of the $547.7 billion program in 2015 alone,” through intentional deception or misrepresentation; inappropriate use of services and resources; and practices inconsistent with sound fiscal, business or medical practices.

And that’s just one federal program. Ending or reducing those problems will go a long way to counter spending cuts.

Those who believe the federal government cannot spend less and accomplish just as much good are living in Fantasy Land. Too many people automatically believe the scaremongering of those who profit politically from supporting high levels of spending. While Trump’s budget is far from perfect, it does lay out some steps that would get the nation going in the right direction. The ball is now in Congress’s court.

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