Donald Trump finally begins to face the scale of the Government’s budget deficit, fuelled by a $1.5 trillion tax cut.
Trump said Wednesday, “We’re going to ask every Cabinet Secretary to cut 5% for next year.”
The Administration floundered for months over its Fiscal Year 2018-2019 budget, with two brief shutdowns over Trump’s demands such as The Wall with Mexico. However, it was able to score its one major legislative victory in December 2017 — albeit with the projection from economists that the measures will add $1.3 trillion to the deficit over the next decade.
The 2019-2020 budget proposal is due to be presented to Congress early next year.
The Treasury reported this week that the federal budget deficit rose this year to $779 billion, a 17% increase over last year and the highest deficit since 2012. The deficit could have been higher but the timing of certain payments was shifted.
The Administration’s budget last year called for the elimination of 62 agencies and sharp cuts in most departments, such as more than 30% in the State Department and in the embattled Environmental Protection Agency.
Legislators balked at the reductions. Meanwhile, the budget increased spending for the military, with a package of more than $700 million.
Trump tried to defend the deficit surge on Wednesday by insisting, “Military was falling apart, it was depleted, it was in very bad shape.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin avoid any attention to the tax cuts, assserting that deficit increases were the “dire consequences of irresponsible and unnecessary spending”.
Trump’s command for a 5% reduction in all agencies will not offset the effect of the tax reductions — it is estimated to save $200 billion to $300 billion, about a quarter of the projected 2019 deficit of $1.1 trillion.
Chris Lu, a former Deputy Cabinet Secretary in the Obama Administration summarized:
That's a 5% cut for veterans, national security, law enforcement, healthcare, farmers, roads/bridges, workers, environment, food and housing aid. Everything.
— Chris Lu (@ChrisLu44) October 17, 2018