(Quin Hillyer, Liberty Headlines) President Trump’s new ten-year budget plan, released this week in unusual fashion while he is abroad and without official comment, is being generally considered a starting point for negotiations rather than a firm, hard target.
“The president’s budget is a suggestion,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, Republican of Wyoming.
The proposal projects a balanced annual budget at the end of the ten years – while calling for tax cuts – so outside conservative-libertarian groups are praising it. (More on those high points, momentarily.) But on Capitol Hill, even longtime budget hawks like U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina are calling it unrealistic, even if aspirationally praiseworthy.
“The proposed three percent economic growth assumes a Goldilocks scenario regarding several major economic indicators, such as a sustained unemployment rate of 4.8 percent – when the last 10 years have averaged at 7 percent,” Sanford said. “It assumes another 10 years of continuous economic expansion, which would be unprecedented because we are already in our country’s third-longest period of economic expansion. And it ignores significant demographic and financial headwinds, such as the continuing retirement of the baby boomer generation and slowed private investment due to an increased public sphere in the economy.”
Conservative Senate Budget Committee member Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania sounded similar: “I support the broad goals of the Trump budget, but there are particulars with which I disagree.”
They were matched by the editors of National Review, who wrote that “Trump’s budget is ill-advised in many of its particulars and incompetent in others, but as a statement of priorities, it is very much what one would expect from a conventional Republican …. Increasing defense spending, paring back the least effective parts of the welfare state, and reforming the tax code all are worthwhile goals, and we hope Congress will keep them in mind once it tears up the Trump budget and gets to work on the real one.”
And if some conservatives describe Trump’s proposal as a mixed bag, centrists (not to mention liberals, who yelled bloody murder) were scathing. The budget is “dead on arrival,” sniffed Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, using a familiar cliché.
And presidential campaign loser Hillary Clinton called Trump’s budget proposal an “unimaginable level of cruelty” today in a speech at the Children’s Health Fund Annual Benefit:
And under a headline of “Trump’s Budget Doesn’t Make Sense,” Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget wrote in the New York Times that “President Trump’s budget sticks to his campaign promises — including increasing military spending, investing in infrastructure, talk of tax cuts without specific offsets and ‘protecting’ Social Security and Medicare, a reassuring political promise that removes over one-third of the budget from consideration. The problem is, those promises didn’t add up on the campaign trail, and they don’t now.”
But those were the naysayers. Plenty of conservatives were thrilled with Trump’s handiwork. Indeed, Jim Antle at the Washington Examiner compiled a large roundup of outside conservatives likening Trump’s approach to that of former president and conservative hero Ronald Reagan. It is “the most fiscally conservative budget since Reagan,” said Chris Edwards of the CATO Institute.
Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform went even further: “This is a Reaganite, limited-government, anti-waste and anti-duplication budget. It certainly makes those Republican critics who said that Trump would be a big-spending populist look like idiots.”
Not quite so memorably, but almost as enthusiastically, hardline conservatives on Capitol Hill weighed in with praise.
“Finally we have a president who presents a pathway to a balanced budget,” said Ohio’s Jim Jordan, founding former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. “This budget provides much-needed increases in spending for our military while also reforming our welfare system by incentivizing work for able-bodied adults.”
“President Trump’s budget is a serious attempt to bring federal spending under control,” said Virginia’s Dave Brat, who shocked the political world a few years ago when his conservative challenge unseated then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a 2014 primary. Brat added that the proposal “contains key provisions to secure the border, rescue Americans from Obamacare’s failures, reduce government waste, build a strong military, and reform welfare programs while protecting the most vulnerable.”
The overall budget will now go to both House and Senate Budget Committees, and its details will be further hashed out in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the House Committee on Ways and Means, and the Senate Finance Committee.