And the cuts roll-on. A few more thoughts on the Trump budget

posted at 8:31 pm on February 18, 2017 by Jazz Shaw

John already previewed this story, but after so long wandering through the fiscal conservatve desert I wanted to chime in on this. We don’t know actually know yet what the details of Donald Trump’s first budget will include and we likely won’t for at least another month. But as John pointed out, some hints can be found in that internal memo which went out this week. Given that Mick Mulvaney was put in charge of that department and he’s a known budget hawk, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the White House appears to be ready to go after the federal checkbook with an ax rather than a scalpel. None of this is final yet, but the items on the chopping block will undoubtedly come as welcome news to fiscal conservatives while setting the hair of big government spending advocates on fire at five alarm levels. (New York Times)

The White House budget office has drafted a hit list of programs that President Trump could eliminate to trim domestic spending, including longstanding conservative targets like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, AmeriCorps and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities.

Work on the first Trump administration budget has been delayed as the budget office awaited Senate confirmation of former Representative Mick Mulvaney, a spending hard-liner, as budget director. Now that he is in place, his office is ready to move ahead with a list of nine programs to eliminate, an opening salvo in the Trump administration’s effort to reorder the government and increase spending on defense and infrastructure.

As with most stories at the Dawn of the Trump era, this one has not only interesting elements of policy proposals but the need to highlight how the liberal media is choosing to describe them. The first two big-ticket items are perennial targets for conservatives as the Gray Lady notes. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting as well as the National Endowment for the Arts are near and dear to the hearts of Democrats, so if they are eliminated we will no doubt be lectured endlessly about how the GOP is trying to coarsen the nation, destroy everything beautiful and anything else they can think to throw at the wall.

The one surprise on the list, at least for me, is the inclusion of the Export Import Bank for elimination. As we discussed here previously, earlier rumors coming out of the White House indicated that President Trump had been listening to some less conservative voices and was poised to flip his position on that subject and reinstate the bank. Burying Ex-Im once and for all would be welcome news if it’s true, but as the president himself has warned us so many times, we probably shouldn’t take anything as gospel until it’s actually been printed with his signature on it or at least shows up in his Twitter feed.

Returning to the subject of how we can expect the media to react to any efforts at fiscal propriety, the New York Times gives us a fairly solid indication in this article. Programs costing $500 million annually are literally described as “a pittance.” A total savings created by this proposed list of five times that amount is further characterized as “relatively small.” At the same time, the various programs under consideration are all portrayed in glowing terms, preparing us for the tongue lashing to come if they are actually removed.

As a nation, we may have reached the point where we can shrug our shoulders at $2.5 billion but that’s precisely how we managed to dig the current hole we find ourselves in so deep. When you combine that savings with the reductions achieved through the hiring freeze and the large-scale shrinking of various cabinet level departments (such as the EPA) the numbers slowly begin adding up to something in the hundreds of billions. The further down we drive that number the closer we come to a balanced budget.

Sadly, that’s only half the battle. Creating a new budget and passing it when you hold a majority in both houses isn’t really all that hard. The serious trick is managing the sales job required to convince the American people that this is necessary medicine for the overall health of the nation and prevent them from handing control back to the Democrats in two or four years. Donald Trump prides himself on being something of a circus ring master and he’s going to need all those skills and more to manage this feat.


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