Trump’s Budget Not Perfect, but a Step in the Right Direction

This op-ed was originally published at the Washington Examiner on May 24, 2017.

The budget proposal rolled out by President Trump’s White House on Tuesday may not be perfect—but it’s a significant departure from the red ink of the past 16 years, and it’s one that fiscal conservatives should embrace.

The document is a substantial departure from the fiscal profligacy of the Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Trump’s budget proposal promotes lifting low-income Americans out of the federal government’s welfare trap and balances the budget within 10 years. It would eliminate 66 wasteful government programs and reduce improper payments.

One of the early criticisms of the budget plan is that it assumes annual economic growth of 3 percent, which would increase tax revenue for the federal government. This cynicism is understandable. The United States has not seen 3 percent growth or higher since 2005. But the approach the Trump administration is taking to reduce regulation and reform the tax code will encourage economic growth, create jobs, and produce higher revenues.

However, in spite of all these bold changes, the proposal still falls short of addressing the federal government’s serious long-term fiscal crisis. It fails to propose any changes to Social Security’s main program, the fund for which will be exhausted in 2035 and will be able to pay only 77 percent of benefits. Nor does it change Medicare, which will not be able to pay its full liabilities in 2028. The White House’s resistance to entitlement reform is shortsighted.

Even more shortsighted, however, is the resistance of the crocodiles in the swamp, who are attacking the president’s budget and looking to continue their feast on taxpayer dollars. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the budget was “dead on arrival” in Congress. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., complained that the proposed spending cuts are “too close to the bone.”

Republicans have the White House and full control of Congress for the first time since January 2007. After eight years of rightfully complaining about their inability to put the nation on a sustainable fiscal path, Republicans have a responsibility to seize the moment and actually govern according to their campaign promises on spending.

Put simply, excuses are not going to go over well with conservative grassroots activists. They want results, and they want them now. At the very least, Trump’s budget is showing conservatives which Republicans are serious about cutting spending and which ones are not.

Jason Pye (@pye) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is the director of public policy and legislative affairs for FreedomWorks.