Confronted with trillion-dollar-plus deficits for as far as the eye can see, President Trump is offering a budget plan that rehashes previously rejected spending cuts while leaving Social Security and Medicare benefits untouched. Trump’s fiscal 2021 budget plan, expected to be released Monday, isn’t likely to generate a serious Washington dialogue about what to do, if anything this election year, about entrenched fiscal problems that have deficits surging despite a healthy economy. It was being released on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, a move that minimizes attention. For more in a fairly critical AP summary:
- The budget proposal relies on rosy economic projections and fanciful claims of future cuts to domestic programs to show that it is possible to bend the deficit curve in the right direction.
- Trump and key administration figures such as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had promised that Trump’s signature cuts to corporate and individual tax rates would pay for themselves; instead the deficit spiked by more than $300 billion over 2017 to 2019, falling just short of $1 trillion. Part of it is eye-popping levels for defense, about $750 billion this year, and comparable gains for domestic programs favored by Democrats.
- In this year’s budget release, Trump has revealed initiatives of interest to key 2020 battleground states, such as an increase to $250 million to restore Florida’s Everglades and a move to finally abandon a multibillion-dollar, never used, nuclear waste dump that’s political poison in Nevada. The White House also leaked word of a $25 billion proposal for "Revitalizing Rural America" with grants for broadband Internet access and other traditional infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges.
- The Trump budget also promises a $3 billion increase—to $25 billion—for NASA in hopes of returning astronauts to the moon and on to Mars. It also is likely to reprise his small-bore infrastructure initiative while proposing a modest parental leave plan.
- Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to promise voters that his budget "will not be touching your Social Security or Medicare" in keeping with his longstanding 2016 campaign promise.
- The reality is that no one—Trump, the Democratic-controlled House, or the GOP-held Senate—has any interest in tackling a chronic budget gap that forces the government to borrow 22 cents of every dollar it spends.
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