Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Budget Guy has a new home, and he's laughing at Trump

Stan Collender is a must-read if you ever want to get inside the nuts and bolts of the federal budget and the processes on Capitol Hill that go into developing it. He's now started a new blog site that's naturally called "The Budget Guy," and his first post is fittingly titled "Trump Again Shows He's All Talk on the Deficit and Debt."

Collender concentrates on this week's vote by House Republicans to rescind $15 billion in already-allocated spending, with half of that money coming from the CHIP health insurance program for children. Collender rips Trump's attempts to talk this up as an empty gesture because that "cuts" are for funds that weren't going to be used, so there's no effect on the overall deficit, and the Senate won't send it to Trump's desk before the end of the Sept. 30 fiscal year.
Trump is actually mostly proposing to cut appropriations that were never going to be spent anyway. Even if its enacted, the real impact of the Trump rescission on the federal deficit and national debt will be about 93 percent less than he’s claiming, or only about $1 billion.

A billion dollars is definitely worth saving. But even this much smaller amount overstates the savings from the Trump proposal because it’s not going to be enacted. The Senate GOP leadership has already indicated it has no plans to consider the rescission bill and the legislation would face a virtually certain filibuster anyway if were debated.
Silly enough, but the one thing a recissions bill does do is to lower the budget "authority", or base amount of spending in programs. Which means that CHIP starts off from a lower amount for next year, making it more susceptible to being cut in the FY 2019 budget - an awful "own goal" by the GOP ahead of an election where one of the last things people want to hear about it health care cuts.

In addition, Collender notes that Trump's new talk about "fiscal restraint" is latest in a series of stunts from Don the Con that have no connection to what actually needs to be done. As The Budget Guy notes, even his fellow Republicans in Congress don't take Trump's words and proposals seriously when it comes to the budget.
Trump’s first full 2018 budget, which was released with lots of fanfare, was also ignored by the Republican House and Senate when the White House walked away from it just a few days after it was released.

The fiscal 2019 budget Trump sent to Congress earlier this year was abandoned so quickly by the White House that it wasn’t even a topic of discussion on that weekend’s political talk shows.

And who could ever forget the spectacle from this past March when Trump signed the fiscal 2018 omnibus appropriation and then minutes later angrily announced that he should have never done it.
Maybe our next president should have a clue about how things actually work before taking office, just a thought. Meanwhile, enjoy the pre-election budget crisis that you know will hit in 3 months as the 2018 Fiscal Year closes.

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