The saying “a budget is a moral document” has become almost a cliche, something that people repeat whenever anyone assembles a budget for the federal government. Interestingly enough, it’s usually liberals who say it, while conservatives aren’t particularly eager to cast their budgetary choices in the light of morality. There’s a good reason for that.
But before we get to that reason, let’s take a look at the budget the White House released on Monday. It should be said that this budget won’t actually become law — Congress writes budgets, and Democrats and Republicans just made an agreement that will cover government spending for the next two years — but the president’s budget is always a window into the administration’s thinking and priorities. In this case, that window opens on an ugly place, where the world the Republican Party would like to see is laid out in all its hideous glory.
Let’s take a look at just some of the highlights. The budget would do the following:
Spend $716 billion this year on the military
Spend $18 billion over two years to build a border wall
Cut $554 billion from Medicare over 10 years
Cut $250 billion from Medicaid over 10 years
Cut $214 billion from food stamps over 10 years
Cut the EPA’s budget by 34 percent
Cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development budget by 14 percent, including eliminating the fund that pays for capital repairs to public housing
Eliminate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides funding to PBS and NPR
Eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities
Eliminate the Legal Services Corporation, which provides legal help to poor Americans
Eliminate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which ensures that poor Americans don’t freeze to death in the winter
Cut funding for Amtrak in half
Eliminate ARPA-E, which does cutting-edge research on energy technology
Now tell me those aren’t moral choices.
If you’re looking for a silver lining, you might observe that unlike prior Republican budgets, this one does not pretend that it will be balanced in 10 years. Which might sound like some admirable candor, were it not for the fact that this one is as full of magic asterisks, fairy dust, and unicorn kisses as ever. Most importantly, it assumes that GDP growth will quickly top 3 percent then stay that high through 2024, a stretch unlike anything we’ve seen in decades. That allows them to say they aren’t ballooning the deficit as much as they actually would.
The budget also includes items like $139 billion in savings achieved by reducing “improper payments government wide.” It’s almost impossible to tell what they’re talking about, but it sounds a lot like what we used to call “waste, fraud, and abuse,” which is shorthand for “we can reduce the budget by huge amounts without cutting anything anybody actually likes.” It never seemed to work out, not because there isn’t waste, fraud, and abuse in the government; there is, just as there is in any large organization, and the U.S. government is the largest organization …read more
Source:: The Week – Politics