“Budgets are moral documents,” has been attributed to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
To borrow Dylan Matthews’ caption from 2017, “Budgets are moral documents, and Trump’s is a moral failure.”
The most amoral and corrupt president in U.S. history released his budget proposal on Monday. The only consolation is knowing that this budget proposal is dead on arrival in the House, and will never become law.
Will Trump’s MAGA minions ever accept that they have been lied to and betrayed by this grifter and con man?
During his 2016 campaign, Trump broke from Republican orthodoxy by promising not to cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. His budget, by contrast, now calls for scaling back all three programs. Steve Benen writes, It’s not just Medicare: Trump budget eyes Social Security cuts, too:
“I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,” Donald Trump declared in 2015. “Every other Republican’s going to cut, and even if they wouldn’t, they don’t know what to do because they don’t know where the money is. I do. I do.”
It became a staple of his entire national candidacy: no matter what, Americans could count on him to champion these social-insurance programs.
Four years later, the president is, in fact, proposing deep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. As the New York Times reported, Trump’s newly proposed budget completes the trifecta by targeting Social Security, too.
The administration also proposes spending $26 billion less on Social Security programs, including a $10 billion cut to the Social Security Disability Insurance program.
As we discussed earlier, the problem with a proposal like this one isn’t necessarily practical: with a Democratic-led U.S. House, there’s simply no way policymakers will endorse the White House’s budget blueprint or enact the cuts Trump supports.
As Greg Sargent notes, It turns out Trump really is just a regular Republican. “In short, [this budget] is Paul Ryan’s dream come true.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, on Monday slammed President Trump’s 2020 budget proposal, calling it “dead on arrival and divorced from reality.” Leahy added in a statement that the proposal “is not worth the paper it is printed on” and predicted it will be rejected by Congress. He called it based on a “gimmick” said it was “not a serious proposal.”
Rather, what this represents is a political problem on a variety of fronts. It’s obviously, for example, a profound broken promise: as a Republican candidate, Trump swore up and down for months that he’d never try to cut Social Security, but here he is anyway, doing the opposite of what he said he’d do.
It’s also a policy failure: a whole lot of us predicted that the president and his allies would go after popular social-insurance programs – often referred to as “entitlements” – as a way to help pay for the Republican tax breaks for the wealthy. With his new budget plan, Trump is helping prove the point.
As regular readers probably recall, as the 2018 midterm elections drew closer, a variety of Republican leaders, cognizant of broad public support for programs like Medicare and Social Security, said it’s GOP officials who really support the programs – reality be damned.
Trump led the way, going so far as to argue just six months ago, “We’re saving Social Security; the Democrats will destroy Social Security. We’re saving Medicare; the Democrats want to destroy Medicare.” The president has pushed the same message at many of his campaign rallies.
Soon after, voters handed Democrats their biggest wins in U.S. House races since the Watergate era – which, for some reason, the president interpreted as a justification to betray his own assurances to voters.
When House Republicans are invited to vote up or down on the Trump budget, it’ll be an interesting test of just how far they’re willing to go to align themselves with an unpopular president’s unpopular agenda.
As I explained in an earlier post, what Trump’s budget actually does is set up another GOP hostage taking over the federal debt ceiling coming in September. Did you really expect good faith from Trump?
Dylan Scott at Vox similarly reports, Fresh off the government shutdown, Congress has another big spending deadline looming:
[The federal debt ceiling was surpassed on March 1.]
[Extraordinary measures] will probably be exhausted by the late summer or early fall, so Congress will need to act by then.
The fall is also, serendipitously, the time that Congress needs to reach a deal to avert automatic spending cuts. The budget caps from the 2011 budget deal are still in place for two more years, something Democrats and Republicans hate. The caps require across-the-board cuts on domestic and military funding, known as sequestration, if federal spending exceeds them. Congress has reached deals every two years since 2013 to lift the caps. The next deadline for a deal to prevent big spending cuts is October 1.
Aides from both parties think that convergence means it’s likely the next debt ceiling increase will end up being paired with a deal to lift those federal spending caps. Nobody wants a debt default, nobody wants automatic spending cuts, so it makes sense to tackle both of those issues in one package.
But just because Democrats and Republicans agree on the goals doesn’t mean it will be easy to find a compromise. They’re going to have to figure out exactly how much to boost both defense and non-defense spending — and there could be an even pricklier fight about whether those increases should be offset by tax increases or spending cuts elsewhere.
To pay for his “big beautiful wall” on the Mexico border and the $1.1 trillion annual deficits from the ruinous GOP corporate welfare tax cut, Trump is proposing draconian cuts to the nation’s social safety net. He is not going to get this from Democrats in the House.
But there are two ticking time bombs, the “sequestration” automatic spending cuts across-the-board for domestic and military funding in the Budget Control Act of 2011, and the federal debt ceiling which must be raised to avoid defaulting on the full faith and credit of the United States and touching off a global economic catastrophe.
If Trump doesn’t get what he wants, he is the type of person to blow everything up in retaliation. And that would be his ultimate betrayal of Americans. Will Republicans in the Senate enable him to do it? Stay tuned.