Throughout the campaign President Trump swore off cuts to Social Security and Medicare, promises which could ultimately result in the first splintering between the White House and Congressional Republicans who maintain that the federal budget can’t be balanced without meaningful entitlement reform.
Trump is set to present the first outline of his budget when he addresses a joint session of Congress for the first time on February 28th.
Mr. Trump accepted an invitation Tuesday to address a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28. The president is expected to release next month the outlines of his first budget—a blueprint for how he sees government spending—that will then be fleshed out later in March or April.
Budget experts tasked to oversee the transition at OMB have been using pieces of a budget blueprint advanced by the conservative Heritage Foundation to push for steep cuts to nondefense and nonentitlement programs, eliminating funding for agencies like the NEA, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Of course, as the Wall Street Journal points out, pretty much every President in modern history, with the ironic exception of Bill Clinton, has been overly optimistic about the implications of their budgets for the federal deficit.
Meanwhile, the confirmation hearing of Trump’s pick for the White House Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, revealed the deep divisions within the Republican party, and even within the Trump administration, on entitlement reform with Tom Cole of Oklahoma saying that “anybody who is going to balance the budget on discretionary spending [cuts] is on a fool’s errand.”
During the campaign, Mr. Trump swore off cuts to Social Security and Medicare, but Republicans said that would lead to wider deficits or even bigger cuts down the road.
“Mr. Trump did say some things during the campaign that I wish he had not said,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) at one hearing. “They are totally unrealistic. Make no sense whatsoever.”
“I haven’t been quiet and shy since I’ve been here,” responded Mr. Mulvaney, who supported changes to entitlement programs as a four-term congressman from South Carolina. “The president knew what he was getting when he asked me to fill this role.”
“I’m not looking to pick a fight with the president of the United States, but if his goal is to put the country on a fiscally sound course, he’s going to have to address entitlement reform,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R., Okla.) in an interview. “Anybody who is going to balance the budget on discretionary spending [cuts] is on a fool’s errand.”
Of course, with entitlement spending making up well over 50% of the federal budget, Mr. Cole does seem to have a point.
Unfortunately, and quite unsurprisingly, new figures out from the Congressional Budget Office reveal that entitlement spending is expected to skyrocket over the next decade with Social Security and Health spending surging from 10.4% of GDP in 2017 to 12.9% in 2027.
But it shouldn’t be a huge deal because a 150% debt-to-GDP ratio has a nice ring to it.