Viewpoint: Trump budget may be ‘dead on arrival’ but reveals callous priorities


I have to admit, Trump’s budget is daring. No other president would dare slash Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, environmental protection, education funding by over $2 trillion and without a care.

Here’s what I don’t get: why is it that Republicans claim that raising taxes on the wealthiest won’t address budget deficits, but cutting Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, environmental protection, education funding, will?

In fact, the budget that the Trump administration just released doesn’t even pretend that the pain it would cause would address budget deficits, which are expected to run a record $1 trillion a year for the next four years, and, oh yes, the national debt hit $22 trillion.

And Trump’s trade wars, which are damaging the economies of allies and hurting U.S. exports, hasn’t actually produced jobs or benefited the economy): the trade deficit hit a record, $891.2 billion last year.

It seems that Trump’s budget is just throwing numbers against a wall, with no real expectation that the Democrats, who control the House, will go along. So in fact, it is more of a political statement: We can punish the vulnerable because we can.

“No President has done more in two years to strengthen our military, restart our economy, and reform our government than President Trump — promises he made while running for office,” said OMB Acting Director Russell Vought. (Actually, Trump promised to keep Medicare, Social Security intact and deliver health care that would be cheaper and better.)

But, Vought admits, “This great progress is threatened by our unsustainable national stands at more than $22 trillion. Annual deficits are continuing to rise and will exceed a trillion dollars a year. And it’s projected that interest payments on the national debt will exceed military spending by 2024. Washington has a spending problem and it endangers the future prosperity of our nation for generations to come.”

Actually, Washington has a revenue problem – the tax cut did not trickle down, did not result in new investment and tax revenues. Trump’s solution? Make the tax cuts permanent.

Remember, the mounting deficits at a time of economic prosperity – what happens when the inevitable business cycle turns down? (First thing: blame Democrats).

The way the budget is constructed, it assumes that the economy will be strong forever – that jobs will be so plentiful you can require people to have a job in order to get food stamps.

The military industrial complex is getting a 5% boost, to a record $750 billion, even more than the Defense Department asked for. And of course, there is $8.6 billion for the border wall, that no one wants.

How is the 5% increase in military spending paid for? It cuts $2.7 trillion including $1.9 trillion in “mandatory spending” (otherwise known as “entitlement programs” like Social Security and Medicare) over the next 10 years.

It cuts millions out of the Job Corps training program, $600 million out of 85 cultural and exchange programs at the Department of State (no need for cultivating hearts and minds!)

On the other hand, you know what is a priority? Not improving public schools, but spending $15 billion for school choice, designed to undermine public education.

Some $327 billion in “savings” are extracted from social safety net programs, with a work requirement for SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid and housing programs. “18-55 year olds are expected to work.”

It also makes the tax cuts from 2017 permanent – a bone to Trump’s base.

The administration is seeking $200 billion more in infrastructure spending, but guess what is cut out? Not a dollar is being allocated for the Gateway Tunnel, a clear demonstration that Trump intends to use infrastructure funding as a political slush fund, to reward supporters and harm opponents.

“Inaction would be catastrophic not just for the region but for the entire national economy,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo. “The Trump Administration must stop playing political games and holding this funding hostage. If the federal government refuses to fund this project, then the President will have to answer to the travelers and businesses across the Northeast who rely on this critical transit corridor.”

“The Trump budget is breathtaking in its degree of cruelty and filled with broken promises,” Senator Bernie Sanders, a declared candidate for president, stated. “At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, Trump’s budget pays for his huge tax break to the top one percent by cutting $1.5 trillion from Medicaid, $845 billion from Medicare and $25 billion from Social Security. Make no mistake about it: Trump’s budget is a massive transfer of wealth from working-class families to the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations in America.

The United States already spends more on the military than the next 10 countries combined (including China and Russia), but Trump is proposing $861 billion increase in defense spending over 10 years, paid for by cutting over $1 trillion from education, affordable housing, nutrition assistance and the needs of working families – without any justification for spending that amount.

Trump’s budget:

Cuts environmental protection by over 31 percent next year.

Cuts affordable housing by over 16 percent next year including the elimination of the HOME program and Community Development Block Grants.

Cuts transportation by over 22 percent next year.
Cuts health and human services by over 12 percent next year.
Cuts $207 billion from college affordability programs over 10 years including the elimination of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and subsidized student loans.

Cuts $220 billion over 10 years from the Food Stamp program.

“This is a budget for the military-industrial complex, for corporate CEOs, for Wall Street and for the billionaire class,” Sanders stated. “It is dead on arrival. We don’t need billions of dollars for a wall that no one wants. We need a budget that works for all Americans, not just Donald Trump and his billionaire friends at Mar-A-Lago.”

The commentary is that this was supposed to be Trump’s 2020 campaign document; you would think it is a gift to Democrats.


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