Trump’s Bloated Budget: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

President Trump's Budget

The new $4.7 trillion 2020 budget request from the Trump White House “would curb wasteful spending while predicting a balanced budget by 2034, based on a projected $2.7 trillion in spending cuts, “higher than any other administration in history,” the White House claims.

By Mark Anderson

The $4.7 trillion 2020 budget request released March 11 by the White House entitled “A Budget for a Better America: Promises Kept, Taxpayers First” seeks to fulfill several of President Donald Trump’s campaign pledges such as strengthening border defense and immigration policy, spending more for veterans’ healthcare, and boosting military spending.

Interestingly, the spending plan also would require universities receiving federal funds to bear part of the burden servicing student loans. And, among other things, the plan—which still must go through Congress and applies to the fiscal year which begins Oct. 1—would curb wasteful spending while predicting a balanced budget by 2034, based on a projected $2.7 trillion in spending cuts, “higher than any other administration in history,” the White House claims.

Regarding the border, a White House press release on the budget notes:

The Federal Government must employ all lawful means to enforce the immigration laws of the United States and reduce the flow of illegal aliens and illegal drugs into the country. The budget requests the resources necessary to continue constructing physical barriers on the border [and] increases the manpower of [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and [Customs and Border Protection].

The plan seeks $5 billion from the Homeland Security budget and $3.6 billion from military construction funds for the border wall’s continuation and another $3.6 billion for military construction to replace money Trump intends to shift this year to border-wall construction.

National Coin Investments

In a related matter, the budget request “proposes policy changes to end sanctuary cities,” the press release added. This poses a challenge to ultra-liberal mayors in some of the nation’s largest cities who’ve helped illegal immigrants, including those suspected of serious crimes, avoid capture.

As for veterans’ care—although ending America’s interventionist military policy altogether would stem the flow of maimed and mentally unstable veterans—the White House did announce:

The President’s Budget invests over $80 billion to ensure our veterans receive world class healthcare; a nearly a 10% increase from FY 2019 levels. In addition, the . . . budget makes significant investments in veteran rehabilitation services, education and employment assistance, and suicide prevention.

Student loan debt, which cannot be nullified under bankruptcy laws, has entangled college-educated Americans with large, long-term payments and heavy interest charges, forcing many adults to move back home with their parents and work multiple jobs that often are well below the pay grade for which they’re educated.

And while allowing financially strapped college attendees more leeway to challenge the validity and terms of student loans would be ideal, the budget plan does take some initial positive steps. “The budget proposes to hold institutions of higher education accountable for results by requiring colleges and universities to share a portion of the financial responsibility associated with federal student loans to encourage them to improve performance,” it notes.

Other budget features include:

  • A “one-time, mandatory investment of $1 billion for a competitive fund aimed at supporting under-served populations and stimulating employer investments in child care for working families”;
  • Paid leave for working parents;
  • Investments in “prevention, treatment, research, and recovery” to combat the opioid epidemic;
  • Cuts in some mandatory programs. Medicaid would be partly transformed into a grant program, crop-insurance supports would be cut and $200 billion would be saved via the student loan changes.
  • Rooting out Medicare waste, netting $456 billion over 10 years.

The budget also calls for spending $750 billion on the military with increased funding for space-based weapons and artificial intelligence.

Think the IRS Never Loses Cases? Think again!

Trump’s budget letter also informed Congress that the White House seeks to fund what are known as the “National Security Strategy” and “National Defense Strategy.”

The 35-page “National Security Strategy” of 2002, published by the State Department, notes: “We will actively work to bring the hope of democracy, development, free markets, and free trade to every corner of the world,” softly but clearly confirming that a George W. Bush-era neoconservative posture of exporting democracy, even from the end of a gun, remains in place.

Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor. He invites your thoughtful comments and story ideas at [email protected].