Trump’s budget: fiscally responsible or rash?

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Trump recently released his outline for his 2018 budget request, calling it the America First budget plan, “A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.”

Both Trump’s branding and message seem consistent with this budget. In the opening pages, Mick Mulvaney, who was in charge of arranging the budget, claims that “This 2018 Budget Blueprint will not add to the deficit” and further suggests that the budget was crafted “much the same way any American family creates its own budget … it makes hard choices” which further relates this budget to the “Average American” campaign message of Trump.

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Trump’s budget largely adds a $54 billion dollar defense increase, plus some funding for the Border wall, in exchange for cuts to other federal agencies.

It is those cuts that pose an issue with Trump’s budget. The New York Times reports that the EPA will absorb the hardest hit with a 31% reduction in funding and “the elimination of about 3,200 staff positions — over 20 percent of the department.”

On top of the EPA, State department, and other cuts to major federal programs, Donald Trump’s budget eliminates some independent Federal agencies altogether. It eliminates funding altogether for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and other agencies.

Two trends are clear in Trump’s budget: he is taking aim at climate change and the humanities. He eliminated funding for several NASA earth-study missions, reduced funding for the EPA, and has cut other focus on climate change research.

Trump himself claims that these cuts are “sensible and rational” and are primarily focused on achieving “greater efficiency and to eliminate wasteful spending” in the Federal Budget.

Whether one loves or hates this budget will be dependent on how one defines “wasteful spending.” For those who are concerned with climate change – then this budget is likely a disaster. It could be worse, at least he is only cutting funding for climate science rather than funding climate denial; but maybe that is for next year’s budget.

Jokes aside, this budget – as any – seems to have both its upsides and downsides. Donald Trump has chosen not to increase spending even with Congress and the Senate behind him, which is admirable; but this comes at a high cost to numerous agencies.

If the agencies experiencing cuts can still preform under their reduced budgets, then this budget will likely be a success. But if they cannot, then this budget could be a huge failure for the Trump administration and make things difficult for mid-term elections.

Regardless, there are likely to be numerous changes to this budget at it goes through Congress – Republicans cannot seem to get along and decide on their direction. While the bottom line is yet to be decided, Trump at least plans for no increases to the deficit, achieved through cuts to environmental and humanities programs. While this will hurt agencies, the success or failure of the budget will be determined by whether the cuts increase efficiency, or if they simply remove critical functionality.

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