By Jordan Damond
May 31, 2017 (Washington D.C.) -- Ever since President Donald Trump released his budget plan for 2018, it’s caused an uproar among concerned citizens and some members of Congress. Many have deemed the plan illogical or harmful, while others defend and even praise it.
The plan favors the Defense department, since its spending budget would be raised 10%. However, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of State (particularly international aid) took heavy hits, both losing around 30% in funds. Other departments were hit as well, but the general theme seems to be that programs focused on science, research and social welfare are getting knifed while military and border security are going to see a rise in funds.
None of the programs marked for cuts or increases are surprising given Trump’s agenda and campaign rhetoric, though the depths of budget slashing in many key categories are more extreme than in past federal budgets.
Predictably, House Speaker Paul Ryan advocated for the plan as fiscally responsible."We never had that with Obama. He never even tried to balance the budget, let alone even propose to balance the budget," Ryan said. "So, what I see is a president keeping his promises."
But California Senator Kamala Harris was of a different belief. She released a statement on the plan, expressing her disagreement with it. “At its core, this budget is a cruel betrayal of the middle class and threatens our ability to ensure basic public safety, public health, and public education. This budget makes clear the values of this Administration: it prioritizes those at the top, while leaving working families and the middle class high and dry,” Harris states.
She adds, “It reduces taxes for the wealthiest Americans while taking away Social Security for disabled Americans and tax credits for families with children. It gives corporations tax breaks while eliminating resources for students trying to pay for college. It spends billions of dollars on a wall that won't work, while cutting access to health care and initiatives to cure cancer. I will stand up, speak out, and fight against this budget at every turn just as I will fight against this Administration’s efforts to strip health care from millions. We are better than this.”
The most interesting reaction however came from Republican Mark Sanford, a part of a hard-right group that Budget Director Mick Mulvaney himself helped found. At the hearing, he ripped into the logistic values that the plan is trying to project upon America, calling the economic growth rate a ‘lie’. Sanford does not believe that it is possible to build a working budget on a 3% economical growth. He even went as far as to call the budget a fairytale. “Whatever your budget is, just base it on real numbers and then let’s have a food fight,” he said. “But let’s not base it on fooling the American public into believing that you can do all this because we’re going to have a Goldilocks economy that we’ve never seen before.”
Mr. Sanford wasn’t the only one who questioned the math of President Trump’s budget. Many different sites have commented on the ‘phantom’ $2 trillion , a mathematical error in the budget where President Trump counts the same $2 trillion twice to justify his huge tax cuts. Eventually Trump’s administration tried to rectify the situation, which caused even more hysteria as aides and administration officials contradicted one another.
The projected $2 trillion savings that Trump’s budget believes it would produce doesn’t exist in the eyes of many top economists. A survey by University of Chicago Booth School of Business found a rare show of unanimity: Of 42 economists surveyed, 100 percent of them agreed that Trump’s budget will not create enough economic growth to offset the lost federal revenue and would actually add to the national debt.
Back when Trump proposed a tax plan during his campaign, the Tax Foundation concluded that Trump’s proposed plan at the time would cost at least $2.6 trillion when factoring in economic growth. They were unable to determine how much this new budget plan of Trump’s would cost from the lack of details presented to the public.
A key point regarding the president's budget is how it will affect San Diego directly. San Diego is a major hub for the green/clean energy sector, which faces huge cuts in Trump’s new budget plan. San Diego is also in the nation's top five life-science clusters. Trump’s plan aims to cut around 22% of the National Institutes of Health’s budget which could be very damaging to medical and scientific research.
On the flip side, the budget does give a 5.5% rise in the budget for veteran affairs to allow veterans to receive care outside of VA hospitals. It also provides for modest raises for active duty military and civilians working for the military. A San Diego Union-Tribune report has more details on local impacts of the Trump budget.