The modern fight for fiscal responsibility has been going on for over two decades. However, after George W. Bush began spending us into oblivion the urgency increased rapidly; culminating in the uprising in 2008/2009 known as the Tea Party.
The past decade brought us: Bank-Bailouts(TARP,) Auto-Bailouts, Stimulus (ARRA) spending, Omnibus spending, Porkulous bills, Debt Ceiling increases, Continuing Resolutions, the FED buying debt (QE1, QE2), and beyond.
Finally, frustratingly, exhaustively… we arrive in 2017 and for the first time in modern presidential history we have a president proposing to curb the size, scope, scale and cost of government.
The Washington DC UniParty will fight back hard against any curtailment, so here’s some perspective for the upcoming battle:
- The last federal budget was signed into law in September 2007, for fiscal year 2008, by George W. Bush.
- It has been over a decade since the Federal Government operated with a budgetary law guiding spending.
- Because of the two previous points – Over two-thirds of Republican representatives, and over 50% of all reps in the House and Senate, have never held office during a year with a federal budget.
- Let that sink in.
Here’s the top-line overview of President Trump’s budget proposal by department:
Staying at the 30,000 ft level because that’s the perspective needed, not fighting in the weeds. Consider the Defense budget request that seems to be highlighted in every article about the current Trump budget.
President Trump is asking for $574 billion for defense. An increase of 10%. Sounds big right? Well, it sounds big until you remind yourself what the former level of defense spending was (link).
♦Additional perspective. President Obama (FY 2011) asked for $744 billion in defense spending, which was a drop of $140 billion over FY 2010.
Yes, you read that correctly. In 2017 President Trump is asking for$574 billion, which is $180 billion less in defense spending than President Obama asked for in 2011.
I’m using FY 2011 because the comparisons surround a single senate term. A Democrat Senator in 2011 who supported Obama’s 2011 request to lower defense spending, would, in his/her last year of their term, now be arguing against a Trump request that is $180 billion less than Obama. That’s perspective.
♦ The Department of Defense
INCREASE: $52.3 billion, 10 percent
The $574 billion defense proposal should go over well with hawks such as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who notably advocated for a $640 billion budget. The huge increase restores $52 billion to the Department of Defense and $2 billion more to other defense programs “in a repeal of defense sequestration.” Cyber security is significantly highlighted as a key area to improve as the U.S. builds a “more lethal joint force.” The budget also funds efforts “to strike ISIS targets, support our partners…disrupt ISIS’ external operations, and cut off its financing.” (Yes, the “ISIL” acronym is now officially replaced by “ISIS.”) The defense windfall also addresses warfighting readiness and shortfalls in munitions, personnel and maintenance.
♦ The Department of Veterans Affairs
INCREASE: $4.4 billion, 5.9 percent
Representing a key area where then-presidential candidate Trump promised investment, the budget increases discretionary funding for VA health care by $4.6 billion while also investing in IT advancements to improve efficiency. It also provides monetary support for VA programs that serve homeless and at-risk veterans.
♦ The Department of Homeland Security
INCREASE: $2.8 billion, 6.8 percent
This portion of the budget is almost all about Trump’s “big, beautiful wall” on the Mexican border and other border enforcement priorities. It gives $2.6 billion for “high-priority infrastructure and border security technology” including funding to construct a “physical” border wall. The budget supplies $314 million to recruit, hire and train 500 new Border Patrol Agents and 1,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel and support staff. About $1.5 billion is provided for expanded detention and removal of illegal immigrants, while $15 million is set to go to mandatory nationwide implementation of the E-Verify system. Cuts include $667 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency programs that weren’t authorized by Congress and underperforming Transportation Security Administration programs.
♦ The Department of Health and Human Services
DECREASE: $15.1 billion, 17.9 percent
Most of the cuts come from two areas – the National Institute of Health and the Office of Community Services. Eliminating discretionary spending for OCS saves $4.2 billion while NIH spending reduction checks in at $5.8 billion. A major reorganization of NIH, including an elimination of various programs and activities, is also on tap. A Federal Emergency Response Fund is created to quickly respond to health outbreaks, with the Zika virus specifically cited.
♦ The Department of State
DECREASE: $10.9 billion, 28.7 percent
The budget eliminates the Global Climate Change Initiative and ceases payments to United Nations climate change programs. Funding for the U.N. and affiliated agencies is also reduced overall, as is foreign aid. The State Department’s Educational and Cultural Exchange Programs get cuts, as do multilateral development banks, “including the World Bank.” But the budget isn’t all cuts. Citing the Benghazi Accountability Review Board, money is provided to maintain “robust funding levels for embassy security,” and $3.1 billion is provided for security assistance to Israel. Economic development assistance programs are reoriented “to countries of greatest strategic importance to the U.S.” and resources are provided to fulfill a $1 billion vaccine pledge.
♦ The Department of Education
DECREASE: $9.2 billion, 13.5 percent
The budget eliminates numerous grants and programs, while safeguarding the Pell Grant program. Federal Work-Study is reduced and also reorganized to better be allocated to those undergraduate students most in need. More than 20 categorical programs “that do not address national needs” are reduced or eliminated.
♦ The Department of Housing and Urban Development
DECREASE: $6.2 billion, 13.2 percent
HUD’s rental assistance program is reformed and funding is eliminated for lower priority programs and Section 4 Capacity Building for Community Development and Affordable Housing. Cutting the Home Investment Partnerships Program saves $1.1 billion and wiping out the Community Development Block Grant program saves $3 billion.
♦ The Department of Agriculture
DECREASE: $4.7 billion, 20.7 percent
Numerous loan and grant programs are eliminated, staffing at USDA Service Center Agencies is reduced and funding for USDA statistical capabilities is cut. Rural Business and Cooperative Service discretionary activities are eliminated and major new Federal land acquisitions for the National Forest System get the axe.
♦ The Department of Labor
DECREASE: $2.5 billion, 20.7 percent
The budget reduces funding for ineffective or duplicative job training grants and focuses Bureau of International Labor Affairs on ensuring that “U.S. trade agreements are fair for American workers.”
♦ The Department of Transportation
DECREASE: $2.4 billion, 12.7 percent
A proposal to shift air traffic control from the FAA to a non-governmental organization is initiated while federal funding is capped on the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Program. Several grants are eliminated.
♦ The Department of Energy
DECREASE: $1.7 billion, 5.6 percent
A trio of energy research programs are cut in favor of private sector research. The Weatherization and Assistance Program and the State Energy Program are eliminated in attempts to reduce Federal intervention in State-level issues.
♦ The Department of Commerce
DECREASE: $1.5 billion, 15.7 percent
The budget consolidates aspects of the Economics and Statistics Administration within other statistics agencies. It eliminates two agencies: the Economic Development Administration and the Minority Business Development Agency. There are also $250 million in cuts to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grants.
♦ The Department of The Interior
DECREASE: $1.5 billion, 11.7 percent
Programs such as discretionary Abandoned Mine Land grants are discontinued because they overlap with existing programs. Funding for major acquisitions of Federal land is reduced. Better budgeting is put in place for wild land fire suppression. About $1 billion is invested in “safe, reliable and efficient management of water resources.”
♦ The Department of Justice
DECREASE: $1.1 billion, 3.8 percent
Despite the bottom-line getting cut overall, there are plenty of increases at Justice, including in counterterrorism and counterintelligence activities. Funds are also provided to target the “worst of the worst criminal organizations and drug traffickers.” To combat illegal immigration, the budget provides for the hiring of 75 additional immigration judges, 60 additional border enforcement prosecutors, 40 deputy U.S. Marshals and 40 attorneys. Bankruptcy filing fees are increased in an effort to produce an additional $150 million.
♦ The Department of Treasury
DECREASE: $519 million, 4.1 percent
The budget eliminates grants, shrinks the Federal workforce and “empowers the Treasury Secretary to end taxpayer bailouts.”
The American people elected me to fight for their priorities in Washington, D.C. and deliver on my promise to protect our Nation.
I fully intend to keep that promise.
The DC swamp will fight back. Unfortunately, just like immigration and border enforcement, we are all about to witness elected “conservatives” (having hidden behind a campaign position of reducing the budget) demanding increases in spending.
Watch what happens next.
We are about to see massive numbers of masks dropping, yet again…
For the first time in three decades we have a President actually doing what every politician has campaigned on: reducing the size, scope and reach of government and reducing spending.
The approach is fiscally reasonable and entirely doable. If anything, President Trump’s budget proposal doesn’t go far enough. However, just like the claimed Armageddon over the sequestration, do not expect to see any conservative politicians supporting a budget that is in line with their previously espoused public positions.