May 8, 2018

Rescinding $15B — One Small Step for Budget Restraint

Trump’s move to cut some budget cruft is welcome, though we’re going to need a lot more like it.

Republicans just hate children, says Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. His hyperbole comes thanks to President Donald Trump’s request to rescind $15 billion in federal spending. More accurately, unspent money from expired programs. This presidential authority from the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act hasn’t been used in two decades, and Trump’s use of it now is a step in the right direction on spending. But we’re going to need a lot more steps like it.

Schumer railed, “Let’s be honest about what this is: President Trump and Republicans in Congress are looking to tear apart the bipartisan Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), hurting middle-class families and low-income children, to appease the most conservative special interests and feel better about blowing up the deficit to give the wealthiest few and biggest corporations huge tax breaks.”

Oh please. Trump’s request is to rescind $15 billion in unspent money from previous years, including $7 billion from CHIP. That doesn’t jeopardize anything or anyone. Furthermore, as we’ve admonished Democrats before, taxpayers keeping more of their own money isn’t ransacking the middle class.

A little perspective is needed. While we’re glad to see Trump and Republicans show some modicum of fiscal responsibility, actually being honest about what this is requires acknowledging that it’s a baby step. When the federal deficit is projected to be roughly $1 trillion annually, $15 billion is a drop in the bucket pool. It doesn’t apply to the drivers of the national debt: major entitlement programs. And it doesn’t even apply to the outrageous $1.3 trillion omnibus bill Republicans passed earlier this year.

In fact, as David Thornton notes, “Republican leaders resisted the temptation to target the omnibus, which was negotiated with Democrat leaders. Congressional leaders were concerned that breaking the deal with Democrats would endanger future negotiations. Instead, the funds will be cut from money that was authorized but never spent on programs such as the 2009 stimulus, Obamacare and the Ebola response.”

Still, a White House official told The Daily Signal that omnibus cuts “will come in a future rescission package.” As Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) put it, “Absolutely we hope this is just the beginning.”

Republicans can still tout the idea of fiscal restraint to voters in primary states today. Democrats will never cut spending. Republicans will at least make an attempt. Yay?

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