The White House released President Donald Trump’s first budget today. In the opening message, the president says, “Our Budget Blueprint insists on $54 billion in reductions to non-defense programs. We are going to do more with less, and make the government lean and accountable to the people.”
I would rather that the government do less with a lot less, but I appreciate that Trump is proposing to fully offset to his defense spending increases. His Republican predecessor in office pushed for large increases in defense, education, health care, and other spending without sufficient offsets, thus putting us on our current path of endless deficits and rising debt.
Budget director Mick Mulvaney has assembled a thoughtful array of cuts, including:
- Ending the Community Development Block Grant.
- Ending the Economic Development Administration.
- Ending the Minority Business Development Agency.
- Ending Essential Air Service (EAS) subsidies.
- Cutting an array of K-12 subsidies.
- Moving air traffic control to the private sector.
- Cutting the EPA budget by almost one-third.
- Cutting subsidies for local water and sewer.
- Cutting rural subsidies.
- Ending various energy subsidy programs.
- Ending the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
- Ending the Community Services Block Grant.
- Cutting pork-barrel transportation grants.
- Cutting Amtrak subsidies.
- Cutting job-training subsidies.
- Ending the Weatherization Assistance Program.
- Cutting funding for the United Nations and the World Bank.
- Ending funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Nearly all of these cuts have been recommended by DownsizingGovernment.org.
Many of them would remove the federal government from activities that are properly state, local, and private. So while liberals and lobby groups will complain, individual states can fund programs such as LIHEAP and EAS themselves. If EAS really is “essential,” then local businesses and governments in affected communities will have a strong incentive to raise their own funding for it.
Kudos to Mulvaney and his team for proposing such a broad range of reforms.
This Cato article was republished under Creative Commons licensing.
Chris Edwards is the director of tax policy studies at Cato and editor of www.DownsizingGovernment.org. He is a top expert on federal and state tax and budget issues. Before joining Cato, Edwards was a senior economist on the congressional Joint Economic Committee, a manager with PricewaterhouseCoopers, and an economist with the Tax Foundation. Edwards has testified to Congress on fiscal issues many times, and his articles on tax and budget policies have appeared in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and other major newspapers. He is the author of Downsizing the Federal Government and coauthor of Global Tax Revolution.
Edwards holds a BA in Economics from the University of Waterloo and an MA in Economics from George Mason University. He was a member of the Fiscal Future Commission of the National Academy of Sciences.