The White House released a $4.8 trillion budget on Monday, complete with overly optimistic economic growth assumptions, pie-in-the-sky deficit reductions, and no tax increases — not even for the filthy rich.
It’s a fantasy budget. It has no chance of working and no chance of passing, Besides, Bernie Sanders says it’s a budget of “unbelievable cruelty.”
How is Trump proposing to pay for his tax breaks to the top 1%?
With cuts to Medicare, to Social Security, to education, to affordable housing, to nutrition assistance and to retirement benefits.
This is a budget of unbelievable cruelty, and together we are going to stop it.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 11, 2020
As if government were a person and could be cruel or nice or maybe sexy. Like to see that.
In truth, Trump’s budget is a clusterfark from top to bottom, beginning to end. That it’s dishonest is to be expected. But you better hope that the jamokes at OMB don’t believe any of this crap either. We’d have to start questioning their sanity.
There’s little reason to believe that Trump will fight hard for any of the spending reductions he’s outlined in the latest budget document. In the past several years, he has proposed budgets vowing to make deep cuts to discretionary spending and to restore fiscal sanity, only to sign whatever Congress sends to him. The budgets he has allowed to become law have allowed spending to blow past the limits that were put in place as a result of Tea Party pressure during the Obama era, and there’s no reason to believe anything would work out differently this time.
Of course, proposing to cut one single dollar from the holy text of the budget (unless it’s defense spending) is sacrilege — according to Democrats.
Nothing screams presidential cynicism quite like Mr. Trump’s budget plan to cut foreign aid (always an unpopular budget item but often the best and most cost-efficient way to avoid future military conflicts) or allocating $2 billion for more wall on the Mexican border. But wait, it gets worse. The budget practically declares war on American cities, offering billions of dollars in new spending to assist struggling rural communities (known as “Revitalizing Rural America”), while trimming programs that are vital to urban areas, such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps. There is less for education and for health and a lot less for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which Mr. Trump would like to cut by more than one-quarter. So much for the clean water, air and land the president likes to boast about.
Congress can’t very well start balancing the budget until the president hands them a document that isn’t full of lies and fantasy assumptions.
The budget also relies heavily on optimistic economic assumptions, which help shrink deficits by increasing revenues and reducing dependence on safety net programs. In every year over the next decade, the Trump budget anticipates that the U.S. will grow anywhere from 2.8% to 3.1% (that’s the change in gross domestic product in one year’s fourth quarter from the prior year’s fourth quarter). To provide an idea of how unrealistic that is, in 2018 and 2019, which Trump touted as amazing economically, growth was at 2.5%. The new budget numbers are based on the idea that the U.S. will do better than this — for a whole decade.
It could happen. Really. Just close your eyes, click the heels of your ruby slippers together, and say “there’s no budget like a balanced budget.”
This annual exercise in flimflammery should be ended. Congress is going to spend as much as the special interests demand, the president will pretend to be concerned about it.
And the rest of us await the inevitable crack up when all of our fiscal chickens come home to roost.