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February 11 2020

4 Signals to Congress and the Nation from the President’s New Budget Plan

by Patrice Lee Onwuka

President Trump just released a new budget proposal for FY2021 that is projected to cut spending by $4.4 trillion over the next decade and reduce the deficit by $4.6 trillion. As The Wall Street Journal reports, the plan would increase the nation’s defense spending and seeks to balance the nation’s budget over a 15-year period by reducing spending in other areas such as foreign aid and making changes to current entitlement programs to yield savings and better target the aid to those who really need it. 

The President's annual budget rarely reflects actual spending, but signals his priorities to Congress and the nation. Here are the four big takeaways:

1. Reigning in spending and concern for our nation's financial future have been on the backburner for too long. The President's budget makes some effort to start to address it, but there are still concerns. The budget runs a $1 trillion deficit, but it cuts spending over $4.4 trillion in spending over a decade and aims to balance the balance in 15 years if growth continues at 3 percent. We can only hope the economy grows at a robust 3-percent rate, but to-date we've been growing under 3-percent which is good, but would not be enough to fulfill the demands on our budget. Mandatory spending cuts of $2 trillion and 5 percent discretionary spending cuts are a good gesture, but barely scratch the surface of the growth in entitlement spending in our biggest and most costly programs. Until we talk about reforms to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid -- the biggest drivers of federal spending -- anything else will be drops in the bucket.

2. The President is declaring a war on wasteful spending. The budget reportedly includes a detailed chapter on curbing waste, fraud, corruption and taxpayer abuse. This is an important priority that elected officials have paid lip service to for decades, but often turned a blind eye to. Taxpayers lose billions each year in fraud and abuse in the Medicare program, for example, but out of a $500 billion program, the complaint from the left is that it's not a big deal. Things like wasteful year-end spending sprees on lobster and inflatable games, just to maintain budget levels is an irresponsible practice and abuse of taxpayer funds. This should be low-hanging fruit for both parties to get on board with. 

3. Our social safety net programs should be preserved for those who need it, by encouraging more Americans into self-sufficiency.  The budget proposes making changes to mandatory spending programs that will yield savings for taxpayers and better target the aid. For example, it proposes $292 billion from safety-net cuts such as work requirements for Medicaid and food stamps and $70 billion from tightening eligibility access to disability benefits. With 7 million unfilled jobs and historically low unemployment, now is the time to encourage able-bodied childless Americans to join the labor force for gainful employment, to build skills, and gain experience that delivers them economic independence. Stopping fraud and abuse in disability programs also is important enforcement that ensures much-needed resources go to the right hands. 

4. National security, defense and safety are important, and these priorities are the rightful focus of the national government. The President proposes increasing defense spending as well as including funding for construction of the wall along our Southern Border.

This budget kickstarts an annual process involving both chambers of Congress and the White House that should deliver a budget to the American people, but because of partisan wrangling has yet to actually deliver a budget. 

Regardless, it’s still important that the President’s budget addresses runaway spending and brings this serious problem to the American public. Recently, I joined Your World with Neil Cavuto on Fox News to discuss the President’s War on Waste:

 





Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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