Ideas. Action. Results.

Trump FY 2020 Budget Not a Serious Plan for Deficit Reduction

Monday, March 11, 2019

Washington, D.C.– The following is a statement from BPC senior vice president G. William Hoagland on President Trump’s budget request:

“During the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump promised the American public he would fully offset increases in defense spending, balance the budget ‘very quickly’ and eliminate the (then) $19 trillion federal debt.”

Today, two years into his term, the federal debt exceeds $22 trillion, the annual deficit is nearly $900 billion, defense spending increases have not been offset—indeed, more increases are proposed, using the Overseas Contingency Operations fund as an accounting gimmick—and according to the president’s own budget submission, balance would not be achieved until 2035—16 years and several administrations away.

The president’s budget request is just that, a request, and reflects the administration’s priorities rather than an actual budget to be enacted. Today’s budget release makes clear, however, that curtailing the ballooning deficit is not among the Trump administration’s priorities. It should be.

The Trump administration has seemingly been overwhelmed by how difficult it is to balance the federal budget while also lowering taxes, preserving mandatory (entitlement) spending, and increasing military spending. To deal with this difficulty, the administration has resorted, once again, to unrealistic cuts for domestic agencies and phantom forecasts of rapid economic growth, at odds with nearly all objective forecasts.

Budgeting is governing, and governing is budgeting. The president’s budget proposals do not reflect the reality of governing with a divided Congress. Rather than continuous confrontation with Congress, the administration should commit to finding bipartisan solutions to the fiscal challenges that lie ahead.”

G. William Hoagland is available for comment.