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Trump's Budget Only Reduces the Deficit If You Accept Some Very Unlikely Assumptions

The really scary thing is that even the CBO's more accurate assessment is also based on unlikely assumptions.

The Trump administration says its budget proposal would cut the annual deficit to about $360 billion over the next 10 years, thanks to booming economic growth and the highly unlikely slashing of domestic spending.

Using more realistic expectations, a new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) shows that debts and deficits will continue to grow even if Congress implemented President Donald Trump's proposal wholesale. Trillion-dollar deficits will hit by 2022, according to the CBO, and deficits would total about $9.5 trillion over the next decade, up from the $7.2 trillion that the White House says would be added to the debt by 2028.

The White House projects about 3 percent growth for the next decade, while the CBO expects only about 1.8 percent. That accounts for the "vast majority of the difference in debt estimates," according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan think tank that favors reducing the deficit. The group released its own analysis of the CBO's analysis on Friday.

The CBO's assessment is an attempt to estimate what would happen if Trump's budget plan went into effect, even though it's virtually certain that that it won't. That leads it to a variety of unlikely assumptions.

For example, the CBO assumes that Trump will be successful in cutting more than $1.5 trillion in non-defense discretionary spending, along with another $1 trillion cut from health care spending (mostly in the form of a still-unclear plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and make unrelated changes to Medicare), and that the administration will cut more than $300 billion from other social welfare programs like food stamps. All those those spending reductions are politically unpalatable and therefore likely to be ignored by Congress, but even if they all happen, the debt would still increase, the CBO says.

"The budget relies on huge cuts to non-discretionary programs that run counter to the large spending increases the President signed into law earlier this year," the CRFB report concludes. "In addition, these changes simply are not sufficient when using realistic economic growth assumptions."

Still, Trump's budget is an improvement on the national debt's current trajectory. Without any policy changes, the CBO projects the deficit would hit $1.5 trillion by 2028.

Source: Committee for a Responsible Federal BudgetSource: Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Like most presidential budgets, there's little reason to think that the spending framework sent months ago from the White House to Congress will ever become law. When it comes to budget-making, Congress does what it wants.

But that doesn't mean a presidential budget is meaningless. It's a part, even if only a small part, of a continuously ongoing conversation about America's spending priorities and long-term fiscal plan. And given how unhappy Trump was about Congress' decision to dump a record-breaking spending bill on his desk in March—"I will never sign a bill like this again," Trump said as he signed the bill that essentially guaranteed $1 trillion annual deficits for the rest of his term—the budget presented to Congress in February, which was subjected to hearings this week, could be seen as a signal from the administration that runaway spending will no longer be tolerated.

It could be that. But only if you buy into the White House's overly rosy assumptions, and believe that Congress will suddenly decide to cut billions from entitlement programs, the military, and other politically sacrosanct line items. In other words, it ain't happening.

Photo Credit: Leigh Wells IKON Images/Newscom

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  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Status updates as-of 6:15 ET 5/25/2018:

    Noblesville school shooting: shooter incapacitated by unarmed bystander, 0 dead

    Lake Hefner restaurant shooting: shooter shot and killed by 2 armed citizens, 0 dead

    Reason article on these events: still collating...?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Maybe Robby will write something up about how when armed citizens shoot mass murderers, it violates the murderers' rights to free speech.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    More importantly, Rachel Dolezal is being charged with welfare fraud.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    a tingle goes up Telcontar's leg

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "A student at an Indiana middle school barged into a class on Friday morning wielding two handguns and firing shots."

    You see, kids? Call of Duty lied to you.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    All anecdotes of actual armed citizens fending off and/or limiting shootings will be minimized to protect the narrative.

    The floggings will continue until moral improves!

  • Tony||

    Maybe they have enough shame not to pimp out anecdotes to support a narrative that is totally contradicted by all the people who aren't saved from gun violence.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Pointing out that lots of unarmed civilians are successfully murdered every year doesn't contradict the argument that you think it does, child.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's an election year. Everybody's giving away free shit. That doesn't make it okay, but being naive about these things isn't okay either.

    I've been talking Trump pluses and minuses a lot here today--and I just noticed a new big one for him in the plus column.

    "WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump signed three executive orders on Friday making it easier for the federal government to fire employees it considers to be poor performers, the White House said, drawing rebukes from union representatives who said the sweeping changes were a "direct assault" on the rights of millions of workers.

    The orders reduce the length of time that an employee can be retained using a "performance improvement period," currently ranging from 60 to 120 days depending on the agency, encourage agencies to fire employees rather than suspend them for egregious misconduct, and seek to pare back some of the powers of federal employee labor unions, senior administration officials said.

    . . . .

    Another order will create a federal labor relations working group to analyze union contracts and encourage agencies to prioritize performance over seniority when they consider layoffs. The third restricts how much on-the-job time federal employees can spend on labor union duties.

    ----WSJ

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/tr.....1527284794

  • Ken Shultz||

    I suppose Rand Paul might see this as a cause for criticism, saying that what Trump should do is fire them all immediately and order them to kick each other in the balls for good measure. Apart from silly people complaining about what Trump is doing because of what he also didn't do, there's not much for a libertarian to complain about there.

    Rome wasn't burned in a day.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Did it open the borders? That's all you need to complain.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    and believe that Congress will suddenly decide to cut billions from entitlement programs, the military, and other politically sacrosanct line items. In other words, it ain't happening.

    Or be dumb enough to think that anything on that line besides entitlements matters.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Trillion-dollar deficits will hit by 2022, according to the CBO, and deficits would total about $9.5 trillion over the next decade, up from the $7.2 trillion that the White House says would be added to the debt by 2028.

    Future Republicans will just blame Democrats for those trillion dollar deficits.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Meh. Ho hum.

    The chart stops at ~2030, but really that's when the fun begins. The unfortunate reality is that discretionary spending, including defense, is largely irrelevant in the big picture. After 2030, SS/Medicaid/Medicare are going to eat us alive, and dwarf everything else. Oh yeah, plus interest.

    I'm all for cutting discretionary spending, but agonizing over the short term stuff is peanuts. How about some articles on what to do about SS ? Of all ironies, Reasonmag has taken a shit on a Paul Ryan over and over, but the guy at least saw the big picture regarding entitlements, and attempted to fix it.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    So the president's guesses at economic growth contradict the CBO's guesses at economic growth but the president includes actual cuts to budgets.

    The Horror!

  • Rich||

    the CBO's more accurate assessment is also based on unlikely assumptions.

    Would someone *kindly* explain what "more accurate" means here?

  • Don't look at me.||

    If you look at predictions from the past, you know it means nothing.

  • Rich||

    Thanks, D -- I was concerned that Eric's becoming sarcastic.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    This is the thing that worries me the most.

  • TSTB||

    "It's a part, even if only a small part, of a continuously ongoing conversation about America's spending priorities and long-term fiscal plan."
    Continuously ongoing? Where is this conversation being held? It looks to me like the subject scares most of our elected officials into silence.
    Also, how continuously must one ongoing-ly discuss America's spending priorities before everyone admits that without serious entitlement reform the conversation is pointless?
    Able-bodied citizens under 65 must work to receive any benefits. People receiving welfare of any kind must pass a drug test. Social Security must be calculated using means testing of some sort. The Disability racket must be disrupted. The government student loan debacle has us out about a trillion dollars; Maybe it isn't working as hoped. And so forth, and so on...yada yada yada. It's all about being reelected and not about anything else with these jokers.

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