Trump’s budget fails to address spending problem – Washington Examiner

Washington has a spending problem, and President Trump’s budget doesn’t try to fix it.

Trump’s budget lays out a course of growing deficits and debt. It leans on rosy economic forecasts to dampen deficit predictions and points to weak “reforms” to Medicare in order to wear a phony mantle of fiscal responsibility.

Yet this White House is under attack for exactly the wrong reasons. Most of the media point at the 2020 deficit of $1.1 trillion and blame the tax cuts. We understand why newspaper editors and television reporters in D.C. and New York dislike Trump’s tax cuts: By stripping a favorite tax break of upper-middle class denizens of high-tax states, the bill hikes taxes on exactly this well-to-do, elite slice of the population.

But blaming the tax cuts for the ballooning deficits is merely a diversion. Individual income tax collections in February were actually up 5 percent from the previous year. Federal spending, however, has consistently been rising. The federal government has an overspending problem, not an under-taxation problem.

The other media attack on Trump is that he is “cutting Medicare.” Deputy budget director Russ Vought accurately rejected that charge Monday, declaring from the White House podium, “He’s not cutting Medicare.”

Indeed, the supposed $845 billion reductions in Medicare spending are mostly imaginary. And that’s too bad, as far as we’re concerned. The budget proposes a small but significant reform to Medicare drug spending, but that won’t even save $70 billion over a decade. The $775 billion in other supposed cuts are merely an illusion, conjured by those favorite words of toothless budget cutters: “cutting waste, fraud, and abuse.”

It would take real reforms to Medicare that change its spending and funding formulas in order to get the U.S. government off its current path to fiscal disaster. Wealthy retirees should be responsible for more of their own coverage. More services should have larger co-pays. But the Trump White House has timidly sworn off these reforms.

In a typically Republican nod toward budget discipline, the White House calls for a 5 percent reduction in nondefense discretionary spending. This category ignores the biggest threat to our fiscal stability, entitlement spending, and the biggest part of our appropriations, defense spending. But even in this one, narrow slice of the $4 trillion pie, where the White House says it will cut spending, the budget provides no specifics on how it would do so.

Why? Is it because the White House knows spending cuts in the abstract are popular but cutting specific programs isn’t?

Trump, during his presidential campaign, said he would eliminate the national debt over eight years. That was always an impossible promise, but we hoped he wouldn’t dedicate himself to busting budget caps on defense and perpetuating unsustainable entitlement spending while hand-waving at real budget cuts.

The federal government’s problem is too much spending, and Trump seems unwilling to confront it.

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