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President Trump’s Budget Is a Good First Step Toward Fiscal Restraint

03/16/2017

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), this morning, released President Donald Trump’s budget for FY 2018. The budget blueprint rolled out today would potentially increase spending in other areas yet, overall spending would be cut by 0.3 percent.

Every year, the president releases a budget for the fiscal year, from October 1 through September 30, that will focus on proposals for discretionary spending, covering around 25 percent of federal spending. This does not include entitlements like Medicare and Social Security, which fall under mandatory spending and represent roughly two-thirds of all federal spending. Currently, the bill proposed would reduce and in some cases eliminate spending for many government organizations.

“This 2018 Budget Blueprint will not add to the deficit. It has been crafted much the same way any American family creates its own budget while paying bills around their kitchen table; it makes hard choices,” OMB Director Mick Mulvaney wrote in the document. “The President’s commitment to fiscal responsibility is historic. Not since early in President Reagan’s first term have more tax dollars been saved and more Government inefficiency and waste been targeted. Every corner of the Federal budget is scrutinized, every program tested, every penny of taxpayer money watched over.”

“Our $20 trillion national debt is a crisis, not just for the Nation, but for every citizen. Each American’s share of this debt is more than $60,000 and growing. It is a challenge of great stakes, but one the American people can solve. American families make tough decisions every day about their own budgets; it is time Washington does the same,” Mulvaney added.

The largest increases in discretionary spending in President Trump’s budget are mostly for defense and homeland security. The budget proposes to give the Department of Defense roughly $574 billion dollars, which is a net increase of 10 percent. Veterans Affairs will receive $78.9 billion, which is an increase of roughly 5.9 percent.

Likewise, the Department of Homeland Security is receiving roughly $44.1 billion, which is an increase of roughly 6.8 percent. Overall, the military, enforcement, and veterans agencies are seeing the largest increases in the new budget.

There are significantly larger cuts in other cabinet departments and federal agencies that would offset those increases. Nearly every other department or agency in the executive branch will see a budget reduction.

The most significant reduction being the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) receiving a budget cut of roughly 31.4 percent, including cutting all funding to implement the Clean Power Plan.The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is facing the second steepest cut in the budget with a 28.7 percent decrease. All other departments, excluding the Social Security Administration along with some programs in the Department of Health and Human Services, are receiving a reduction in funding.

Several programs are actually being eliminated by the executive branch. The proposed FY 2018 budget also eliminates funding for multiple agencies, with the most prominent being the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

Most of the programs facing elimination of funding are aimed at promoting the arts, which has not traditionally been viewed as a function of government. These programs would likely have to pursue public funding or be replaced by private alternatives. Filtering these programs back into the private sector is where they belong and by eliminating federal costs it shrinks the overarching control of the executive branch.

Overall, the proposed FY 2018 budget, which, again, touches only discretionary spending, will spend $1.0654 trillion in base discretionary funding and $85.9 billion in cap adjustment funding. The reduction of 0.3 percent in discretionary spending is a result of applying fiscally conservative principles to our spending problem by reducing the size and scope of the executive branch.