Trump warms to budget cuts

  • 18 October 2018
  • NormanL

The president is showing signs he's ready to bring some fiscal restraint to federal spending

In a meeting with members of his cabinet, Trump asked the department heads to prepare budgets that cut spending at least five percent:

“I’m going to ask each of you to come back with a 5 percent cut for our next meeting,” Trump declared at his Cabinet meeting, seated alongside his top officials. “I think you’ll all be able to do it.”

“Some of you will say, ‘Hey, I can do much more than five,’” Trump said, hinting at more drastic cuts for some agencies.

Even the military could see slight cuts from its current budget: Trump said the Pentagon’s budget would “likely be $700 billion,” according to a White House pool report. That would shave off roughly $16 billion, or 2.3 percent, from the Department of Defense, which was recently granted its largest budget since the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Trump’s comments come just days after his own administration reported the U.S. budget deficit reached a six-year high. The budget shortfall for Trump’s first full fiscal year in office totaled $776 billion — 17 percent higher than the previous year.

Some of this may be pure politics in advance of both the November 6 elections and the 2020 presidential race. It may also be a legitimate understanding that current spending levels -- and rising deficits -- are unacceptable. Regardless of which is true, we'll take it. Curbing federal spending and debt is essential to the future health of the American economy. Plenty of interest groups and more than a few members of Congress will balk. But cuts are inevitable. Either the government makes them voluntarily, or the markets will force them to do so, and go much deeper across every program, than the politicians could imagine.