One of the biggest selling points of Donald Trump’s candidacy was his business experience. Now, as head of the largest company he’s ever managed -- the federal government -- the longtime executive is trying to make America financially solvent again. That’s no easy task in a Congress perfectly fine with spending $725,000 of your tax dollars on the next generation of mariachi bands. It’s time to shake up more than the maracas. And President Trump’s plan is the perfect place to start.
Most people think the White House’s budgets are symbolic -- and in this president’s case, that’s a shame. Donald Trump’s proposal isn’t just a bunch of pie-in-the-sky ideas like many past administrations; it’s a serious proposal to tackle waste and bloat. In his third crack at runaway spending, the president takes a sharp knife to every department’s fat. For some agencies, that’s a five-percent cut. For 10 others – Agriculture, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, State, Transportation, Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency – the ax falls even harder, chopping 31 percent from the climate change goose-chasers at the EPA alone.
In departments where excesses have become the norm, President Trump thinks it’s time to start running the government like regular Americans run their homes. “Hard-working families make these sorts of tough decisions every day,” Budget Director Russ Vought explained in an article published last month. “The president believes Washington should be no different.” Of course, living within Congress’s means is a popular thing to say -- and a not-so-popular thing to do. The problem isn’t that the president hasn’t offered solutions. The problem is that Congress won’t act on them.
The House and Senate have been “ignoring the president’s spending reductions for the last two years,” Vought told reporters. “It’s only now in our third budget that they’re willing to have a conversation about the national debt. We’ve been trying to have it since we got to office.” Now, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in charge, that conversation just got a lot more difficult. Already, John Yarmouth (D-Ky.) has said the president’s plan has “no chance in the House” where radical Democrats are demanding free everything.
Still, the GOP would be wise to take a good long look at the president’s budget – and its $2.75 trillion in savings. The most, Vought points out, of any administration in history. But even with this greater restraint, the Trump plan still manages to keep America safer than ever. The military and Homeland Security would see a modest bump – thanks in part to the 722 miles of new border wall ($8.6 billion), a troop pay raise (3.1 percent), investments in our nuclear program and weaponry, and 10 percent boost in medical care for a population that’s been overlooked for years: our veterans.
As far as everyday families are concerned, the White House gives Americans plenty to cheer about. There are more options for paid family leave, a bigger investment in school choice, and a level playing field for abstinence education (sexual risk avoidance). Now, instead of shipping most of our tax dollars off to radically graphic programs that double as LGBT recruiting programs, both sides would take home $75 million in state block grants. That ought to please pro-lifers, who were also happy to see the president use the budget to call for stronger conscience protections in health care.
“Get rid of the fat, get rid of the waste,” Trump said at an earlier cabinet meeting. “I’m sure everybody at this table can do it.” Now, the question is: can Congress?
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.