Rocket, Guardians of Freedom
17 March 2017
One of the key responsibilities of Congress and the President is to pass a budget for the federal government, which ensures that the government continues to function. Well, this week, on Thursday, the Trump administration released a preliminary budget proposal for the 2018 fiscal year. The Office of Management and Budget inside the White House is the agency responsible for the budget plan.
Most, about 73%, of the U.S. Federal Budget is classified as mandatory spending, which involves primarily various entitlement programs and servicing the interest on the U.S. national debt, among other items. The recently released budget proposal does not cover the mandatory spending, considering that, as per the name, mandatory spending is determined by existing law. Instead, the budget proposal covers discretionary spending, which makes up about 27% of the U.S. Federal Budget.
Trump has proposed cuts to all but three federal departments and agencies: the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, and Department of Homeland Security. In cutting funding in all other departments and agencies, Trump seeks to balance increases in the budgets of those three departments. As a given, suddenly the budget deficit and $19 trillion debt do not really matter as much as they did during the campaign. Trump’s budget simply retains current level of spending as a whole, for the most part.
The increase in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs by more than $4 billion dollars, a 6% increase is a welcome sight, and fulfills a campaign promise to help suffering veterans. However, the increase in spending alone is not an adequate measure of success in addressing the problems of veteran care, but rather a good sign. The increase in the budget of the Department of Homeland Security is mostly targeted at the construction of a border wall/fence — another campaign promise. Mexico is seemingly not paying for it, though. Finally, the Department of Defense is also getting a sizable boost of $52 billion dollars. However, the figure falls short of the historic boosts promised on the campaign trail.
Who is going to pay for these increases in spending? (Not Mexico)
The proposal eliminates funding for 19 federal agencies. Every other department is receiving a cut in funding to offset the increase in spending. Trump promised to invest in the deteriorating infrastructure of the country. Instead, the Department of Transportation is getting a 13% cut of $2.4 billion. The IRS has one of the largest rates of return of any federal agency. It spends approximately 35 cents for every 100 dollars it collects as tax revenue. What has the government done with that information? The budget of the IRS has been on a downward trend for years. Trump’s budget proposal, in the $0.5 billion cut to the Treasury Department, cuts the budget of the IRS by another $239 million. What is the easiest way to make climate change go away? Deny its existence and live in a fake reality. The cuts proposed to the EPA, NASA, Energy Department, and State Department all represent a shift towards climate change denial and inaction. Of course, there are multiple other cuts in various other departments and agencies of useful governmental programs that benefit a lot of people. The money from those programs is now going to finance unnecessary chunks of metal and a pile of bricks in the middle of a dessert. I admit that building the wall and staffing it or building new ships or increasing the number of army personnel will provide jobs and stimulate the economy too. However, those increases are coming at the expense of government programs that also help millions of people. The right investment is an investment in education, science, health, housing, trade, and international cooperation, not in war.