“In terms of the overall change in direction, this is basically following the Reagan blueprint to reorder priorities in discretionary spending,” said former senator Phil Gramm (R-Tex.), who as a House member and “blue dog” Democrat played a key role in Reagan’s first budget battle. “It would be modest in any private entity, but in government, it’s significant.”
The domestic cuts proposed in Trump’s new budget will produce pain and are likely to spark the same kind of backlash that has greeted past efforts. Trump enjoys the advantage of having a Congress in Republican hands, and one that includes many members who came to Washington determined to cut government’s size and scope. But the built-in resistance to cuts in specific programs will test Trump’s ability to shift priorities and truly shrink Washington’s reach.
“There aren’t a lot of examples of presidents coming in and saying, ‘I’m going to eliminate this program and that program and cut a whole bunch of programs back anywhere from 10 to 30 percent,’ ” said Robert Reischauer, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office. “This is quite unusual.”
Reagan came to Washington determined to scale back the federal government. His 1981 budget and tax program did just that, cutting taxes dramatically and cutting overall projected government spending by about 5 percent and domestic discretionary spending by about 14 percent, according to Samples. When he left office after eight years, most of those programs he had cut had gotten bigger again, and those he tried to eliminate were still in existence.