As previewed here extensively over the weekend, Donald Trump on Monday sent Congress a budget plan that is D.O.A., ensuring a bitter fight with lawmakers and raising the odds that a stalemate eventually leads to another government shutdown.
The $4.75 trillion proposal is the largest in history and calls for an increase in military spending that is actually more than the Pentagon itself was figuring on. Apparently, defense officials were looking for something on the order of $733 billion from the budget, but Trump’s plan calls for a nearly 5% increase from last year, to $750 billion.
“The additional money will be sprinkled throughout the Defense Department’s coffers, which include overseas operations the four military services and other various agencies”, Foreign Policy reported on Sunday, adding that “some of the extra cash may go to replenishing the $3.5 billion in military construction funding Trump wants to tap to pay for his long-promised border wall with Mexico.” Here’s a bit more on this point from Bloomberg:
Under current law, the $716 billion defense budget cap would fall to $576 billion in fiscal 2020 and the non-defense cap would fall from $597 billion to $543 billion. Trump is proposing to keep both caps in place while supplying defense with $165 billion in war funds not subject to automatic cuts and another $9 billion in emergency funds.
Meanwhile (and predictably), Trump’s budget calls for sharp cuts to things America actually needs, including reduced budgets for the Environmental Protection Agency, State Department, Transportation Department, and Interior Department. Trump is also looking for cuts to foreign aid, cultural exchange programs and federal employee retirement plans. Specifically, the EPA would see its funding cut by 31% from December levels, while State would suffer a 23% cut.
As The New York Times writes, “a few domestic spending programs would see increases, if Trump’s budget were to become law [including] efforts to reduce opioid addiction and a 10% increase in health care spending for veterans.”
In our Sunday budget preview, we detailed the most contentious (and ridiculous) part of Trump’s budget, which is his renewed request for billions in money for his border vanity project. Specifically, Trump wants $8.6 billion for the wall, an ask so far-fetched that one struggles to comprehend the inherent audacity of it, especially in the context of recent events which clearly indicate that Congress will never authorize spending anything close to that on a border barrier.
Of course this isn’t about making realistic proposals. Rather, this is about 2020, something we talked at length about on Sunday. “As with any president in time of divided government, the blueprint is more of a declaration of Trump’s re-election campaign priorities than it is a guide to spending decisions in Washington this year”, the Times goes on to write, in the same linked post above, before reminding you that “Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate pronounced the budget dead on arrival on Sunday [and] Trump’s budgets largely failed to gain traction in previous years, when Republicans controlled both chambers.”
But even as this is more political grandstanding than it is anything else, the plan underscores the extent to which Trump’s feigned interest in fiscal rectitude is in fact just that – feigned.
His plan projects trillion-dollar deficits for four consecutive years ($1.1 trillion in 2019, 2020, and 2021, and $1 trillion in 2022) and wouldn’t you know it, Trump’s borrowing binge (in part to fund tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations) will entail the US spending $482 billion on interest payments next year. That, WaPo notes, “is more than the entire budget for Medicaid.”
Trump, the self-declared “king of debt”, already holds the record for most interest paid in a single year.
Read more on the politics of fiscal insanity
House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth called the budget “dangerous and predictable”, in the course of blasting Trump’s plan for proposing “severe cuts to essential programs and services that would leave our nation less safe and secure.”
“It has no chance in the House”, he added, in case you weren’t clear on that.
As tipped previously, the plan also includes a set of absurd economic projections and even if you accept those, the budget still won’t balance for 15 years.
We could go on, but considering this is isn’t worth the paper it was printed on, we’ll just leave you with a truly hilarious quote from Nita Lowey, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee:
President Trump has somehow managed to produce a budget request even more untethered from reality than his past two. The Trump budget has no chance.