President Donald Trump on Monday sent Congress a $4.4 trillion budget proposal for 2019 which all but waves the white flag on efforts to hold down on federal deficits, as the White House is predicting that the deficit will hover just below $1 trillion in four of the next five years, estimating that Mr. Trump would see over $7 trillion added to the debt if he served two terms in office.
"In Washington, empty rhetoric about fiscal responsibility is about to be swept aside by the reality of trillion-dollar deficits," said Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who last week lectured his colleagues on rising deficits.
The White House predicted the deficit in fiscal year 2018 would be $832 billion, and then stay just below $1 trillion for the next four years - never getting anywhere close to being in balance.
But the budget is about much more than how much money comes in each year in revenues, and how much goes out in spending (known as outlays) - so here's a few nuggets from inside the Trump budget plan:
1. The Trump budget is already dated. Little did the White House budget experts know that just a few days before the 2019 budget was proposed, the Congress would cut a two-year budget agreement, meaning this document is based on assumptions for lower spending than provided for in that agreement. The White House added on an extra letter to explain some of the differences. In that note, the Trump Administration says the budget deal will add an additional $680 billion to the federal deficit over 10 years. Remember that number.
2. Infrastructure plan gives states new power for highway tolls. Released along with the budget, President Trump's new $200 billion infrastructure plan would encourage states to come up with new ways to fund the construction of roads and bridges - and one of those ways is by letting states put tolls on interstates. I'm old enough to remember a lot of interstate tolls, but that's been limited for many years. "Tolling restrictions foreclose what might otherwise serve as a major source of revenue for infrastructure investment," the White House says. Democrats had a different description - Trump Tolls.
3. Another push to get rid of small federal agencies. Again this year, President Trump is asking Congress to take the budget ax to some popular and lesser-known parts of the federal government. The Trump budget would zero out funding for public television, a move that seems unlikely to gain Congressional approval. It was also do away with things like the "Progress Food Aid Program," rural water and wastewater grants, the Economic Development Administration, the "McGovern-Dole International Food for Education" program, and small commissions like the Denali Commission and the Delta Regional Authority.
4. White House wants to sell Washington's water supply. For a second straight year, the President's budget includes a provision which would have the federal government sell the system which supplies water to the nation's capital and much of its suburbs. Created by an act of Congress in 1859, the water authority acts as what the feds describe as "a potable water wholesaler," as they sell water to local jurisdictions in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. The sale of this U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continuous project would net an estimated $120 million. Just as Congress ignored this last year, one would think this plan goes nowhere again in 2018.
5. Repeal and Replace is still a priority. The President's budget again calls on Congress to do away with the Obama health law, something the GOP was unable to do in 2017, though Republicans did make some changes through the tax cut package that was approved in December. Liberal activists were raising red flags about other details of the Trump budget, which would reduce spending on Medicaid by $1 trillion over ten years, reduce Medicare spending by $554 billion, and institute a new plan to hold down on the level of automatic yearly benefit increases linked to inflation. In all, the Trump health care plans would save $674 billion over ten years.
6. Farm interests would see new fees, program cuts. With lawmakers ready to start work on a new Farm Bill, the Trump budget for 2019 unveiled a series of plans which would limit eligibility for farm payments to those who have Adjusted Gross Income over $500,000. "In 2013 (a year of record-high farm income), only 2.1 percent of farmers had AGIs in excess of this amount," the White House stated. The budget also would establish a series of new fees for agricultural interests, for marketing, inspection, health inspection, and a new packers and stockyards fee.
7. No balanced budget - and a lot of red ink. White House estimates in the 2019 budget proposal show President Trump would run up $6.5 trillion in deficits over his eight years in office. That would be slightly less than the $7.2 trillion in deficits added during the Obama Administration. But remember my note from above - where the White House says the new budget deal adds $680 billion to the deficit? Well, take $6.5 trillion, and add $680 billion - that's almost $7.2 trillion. In other words, even the White House right now predicts that President Trump would run up as much in deficits as President Obama. This is the deficit projections made by the White House (these are not Congressional Budget Office numbers):
To give some context, here is the list of deficits under the Obama Administration, followed by figures for the Trump Administration - 2017 is an actual deficit - the later years are estimates.
2009 deficit - $1.41 trillion
2010 deficit - $1.29 trillion
2011 deficit - $1.3 trillion
2012 deficit - $1.09 trillion
2013 deficit - $679.5 billion
2014 deficit - $484.6 billion
2015 deficit - $438.4 billion
2016 deficit - $584.7 billion
2017 deficit - $665.3 billion
2018 estimate- $832.6 billion
2019 estimate- $984.4 billion
2020 estimate- $986.9 billion
2021 estimate- $915.9 billion
2022 estimate- $907.8 billion
2023 estimate- $778.5 billion
To get more information about the Trump budget - click here for the basic overview of federal spending at various departments.
If you are a numbers cruncher, go here for all sorts of spreadsheets on past and future federal spending, revenues and more.
And then there is even more information in what is known as the Analytical Perspectives document.