Dark message of Trump budget
A budget, according to political axiom, is a statement of values, and President Trump’s first spending plan is more of a statement than most. Bearing the blustery title “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” it’s even lighter on fiscal detail, heavier on political rhetoric and freer of practical aspiration than its forebears. But it states its values clearly: war over diplomacy, border fortification over virtually everything else and paranoid style over substance.
As with Trump himself, what the budget doesn’t value makes for a far longer list than what it does. The State Department and Environmental Protection Agency would both lose more than a quarter of their budgets. The departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Agriculture, the Interior, Transportation, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, and Commerce would all sustain cuts ranging from 12 to 21 percent.
Medical research, toxic-waste cleanup, job training, rural transportation and international peacekeeping would be greatly reduced.
None of this would be in the service of fiscal responsibility — say, to make a dent in the national debt, which the budget’s introduction describes as “a crisis.” In fact, notes the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the administration’s proposed increases in the current fiscal year would add $15 billion to the deficit to fund military operations and begin building a border wall — assuming, of course, that a reimbursement from Mexico isn’t in the mail.
Most of the administration’s $54 billion in proposed cuts next year would go to a 10 percent increase in defense spending. That is, most of the government’s less expensive departments would shrink dramatically to expand a military that already costs more than those of its eight nearest rivals combined, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies — over three times more than China’s and eight times more than Russia’s.
As a supposed fiscal plan, however, Trump’s budget is remarkably unserious. It dispenses with the entire question of revenues, fails to look beyond next year and ignores the entitlements that make up the bulk of spending.
Without congressional support, Trump’s budget is nothing more than a statement of values. As such, it’s a dark and dreary statement that is strikingly at odds with the values of most Americans.
— San Francisco Chronicle