“Trump’s budget also raises an interesting political question: Will congressional Republicans — who all express concern about deficits — support the President’s approach of offsetting spending increases with cuts?” asks my friend Chris Edwards, editor of DownsizingGovernment.org at the Cato Institute. He writes:
Many of Trump’s proposals will not be greeted warmly on Capitol Hill. And, to be sure the $54 billion in non-defense cuts he put forth are matched by $54 billion in defense spending increases. So that focus on “lean” does not extend to the Pentagon, and there is no overall spending reduction to help get rising deficits under control.
What’s more, members of both parties defend subsidy programs that aid their states. Still, the broad sweep of Trump’s proposals gives him a strong starting position in budget negotiations. Since he dishes out the pain widely, his cuts will be perceived as being fair, as least by Republican voters.
And for fiscal conservatives there is indeed good news here.
The administration targets aid for state and local governments, for example, terminating Community Development Block Grants and the Economic Development Administration, which both provide subsidies for local business activities. It would cut numerous k-12 school programs that the administration says are ineffective. And it would cut various family aid programs, such as Home Energy Assistance and Weatherization Assistance for low-income families.
Liberals and lobby groups will complain that those are crucial programs. But if they are, then state governments should step in and fund the programs themselves. After all, the funding for federal aid ultimately comes from taxpayers who live in the 50 states — there is no magic money tree in Washington.
Indeed, it is more efficient for the states to fund their own local activities — such as school and antipoverty programs — because doing so eliminates the expensive federal middleman. By ending numerous federal aid programs, the Trump budget would cut the need for high-paid bureaucrats in Washington to administer the money going back to the states. It would also free the states from costly federal regulations that are tied to aid programs….
For now, Trump’s proposed cuts will launch a useful debate about federal budget priorities. What state, local, and private activities should the federal government subsidize? And should the Pentagon be exempt from the “lean and accountable” approach that Trump is demanding of other agencies?
Read more from Chris here.