Trump’s Budget Proposal

The New York Times printed this opinion piece yesterday by Thomas Edsall yesterday: “When The President is Ignorant of His Own Ignorance.” To read article:  Click here

The article catalogs a list of concerns about both Trump and his Cabinet appointees. Not the least of these a concern about Trump’s ability to tell the truth. He notes: “During his first 63 days in office, Trump made 317 “false or misleading claims,” according to The Washington Post. It would be worth learning how they came to that figure.

Edsall provides this summary of the proposed cuts to Discretionary spending:

Discretionary spending, in billions

Agency 2017 baseline 2018 proposal Change Pct. change
Environmental Protection Agency $8.2 $5.7 $2.6 –31%
State and other development programs 38.0 27.1 –10.9 –29%
Agriculture 22.6 17.9 –4.7 –21%
Labor 12.2 9.6 –2.5 –21%
Justice 20.3 16.2 –4.0 –20%
Health and Human Services 77.7 65.1 –12.6 –16%
Commerce 9.2 7.8 –1.5 –16%
Education 68.2 59.0 –9.2 –14%
Transportation 18.6 16.2 –2.4 –13%
Housing and Urban Development 36.0 31.7 –4.3 –12%
Interior 13.2 11.6 –1.5 –12%
Energy 29.7 28.0 –1.7 –6%
Treasury 11.7 11.2 –0.5 –4%
NASA 19.2 19.1 –0.2 –1%
Veterans Affairs 74.5 78.9 +4.4 +6%
Homeland Security 41.3 44.1 +2.8 +7%
Defense 521.7 574.0 +52.3 +10%
Note: Numbers may not add due to rounding. Totals are shown for fiscal years, which begin in October. They reflect base budget levels for each department, which do not include supplemental money for disaster relief, emergencies or additional war spending. They do include offsetting receipts and proposed changes in mandatory programs (CHIMPS) that are used to offset discretionary spending.

Some of these are pretty substantial cuts. The federal government provides very few direct services. Much of the federal budget goes to state, local, and non-profit organizations as grants and contracts to provide services. The key challenge for Congressional members is to figure out how much money their states and local governments will lose and what impacts that will have on their constituents. Talking about cutting the federal budget can be abstract until you realize that your state may not  receive enough money from the federal government to clean up a toxic waste site or to provide support for low income people to pay their heating bills in the winter.

This provides a big-picture overview. You have to dig deeper to know what specifically is going to be cut.  Looking at Agriculture, for example, the very successful Women, Infant, And Children’s Program (WIC) will be reduced by $150 million.  The WIC program is designed to help meet the basic nutritional needs of low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants and children up to age five. The evidence has been overwhelming that is saves money in health costs because children are healthier. A long-ago study by GAO showed that for every dollar spent on WIC, it saved $3.  Note: farm subsidies are not on the hit list for cuts.


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