Home / Politics / Trump’s budget doesn’t matter – Business Insider

Trump’s budget doesn’t matter – Business Insider


Donald Trump
President Donald
Trump

AP

  • The president’s budget seems like a big deal. But you
    would be wise to discard it in the trash.
  • President Donald Trump’s spending agenda is best
    reflected in the spending bill he just signed last
    Friday.

The White House on Monday released its annual budget
proposal
. And you should do with it the same thing that
Congress will do with it: Throw it in the trash.

The president’s budget is not a law and it’s not even a bill.
It’s a statement of principles. Ordinarily, you might think a
statement of principles from the president is important. Maybe
the budget reflects priorities that the White House will fight to
ensure are included in future laws about spending.

But that is not what has happened, in practice.

The president’s spending agenda is best embodied in the spending bill he just signed on
Friday
, which raises spending caps on categories of spending
that his budgets both last year and this year have claimed he
wanted to cut.

Deficits over the next several years will likely be significantly
higher than the already-high figures in the budget proposal —
because of the president’s demonstrated willingness to accept
higher spending levels when Congress agrees to them.

Appropriation is necessarily a bipartisan process. Annual
spending bills have to get 60 votes in the Senate, so they come
out of negotiations between Republicans and Democrats. And
Democrats have only been willing to agree to the increases in
defense spending that Republicans want if they are accompanied by
similar increases in non-defense spending.

Some of the spending-cut ideas that have appeared in the
president’s budget, such as the 20% cut he proposed last year to
the National Institutes of Health, also face strong resistance
from Republicans in Congress.

Other ideas in the budget — like proposed cuts to Medicare
and a restated intention to repeal Obamacare — could
theoretically be pursued through the budget reconciliation
process in the Senate, meaning they could be passed with a simple
majority and only Republican votes.

In practice, Republicans were unified enough on tax policy to
pass a tax cut bill using this strategy, but they couldn’t come
to agreement on doing so with regard to Obamacare. House Speaker
Paul Ryan has expressed eagerness to pursue entitlement cuts
through reconciliation this year, but Senate Majority Leader
Mitch McConnell
has blocked that option
, saying he won’t pursue changes to
entitlement programs in 2018 without Democratic support, which
won’t be available.

So, these ideas are dead in Congress for at least the next year.

If Republicans were to enter 2019 with a larger Senate majority,
they might pursue cuts to Medicare or take another crack at
repealing Obamacare. But that’s not really new information from
the budget. It’s a reflection of existing priorities of
Republican congressional leaders. And the existing political
problems with such cuts — they’re unpopular — would
remain.


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