Can’t cut spending growth

Can’t cut spending growth

PE Bias Grade : C+

By: Allen Nitschelm on February 13, 2020 | Article Review

This is a review of the following Boston Globe Article:
Article Title Trump to pitch budget with more wall funding
Date 02/10/2020
Article Link Boston Globe ( Page A2 )
Syndicated From New York Times
Journalist Alan Rappeport
Jim Tankersley
Article Summary

President Trump submits his version of the budget to Congress.

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The Boston Globe reports on President Trump’s budget which he delivered to Congress. It is a proposal which outlines the administration’s priorities, but Congress typically develops its own budget so this is more of a political document than a budgetary one. Still, it is important and worth discussion.

One of the Conservative knocks against President Trump is that spending has ballooned under his administration. Most Republicans support higher military spending and lower spending on things like foreign aid and entitlement programs, not because these programs aren’t worthy, but because we are currently running a huge federal deficit. We simply can’t afford to keep spending money we don’t have, borrowing from future generations which will either severely burden them or might even cause a default, or other unpleasant unintended consequences (like high inflation.)

So this year, Trump at least starts to give some lip-service to budgetary controls. Since projections often go out over 10 years, Trump can keep spending high today but make promises to lower the future growth of spending. As revenues rise faster than spending, it is assume that this will lead to lower deficits, and eventually can balance the budget. It is reported that Trump’s budget projections show a balanced budget in 15 years, but many of the assumptions sound overly rosy.

But in the language of the Democrat Party, if one controls future spending growth, one is cutting budgets. This is based on a false assumption, which is that future budgets will grow by some rate (say 3%) and therefore a reduction in future spending growth is cutting a projected budget. So if a $100 billion account is forecast to grow by 3% per year but instead is capped at 2% growth, then over 10 years you’d have roughly $1 billion less spending in year one, $2 billion less in year two, etc., totaling up approximate savings of $55 billion. In other words, if the $100 billion went up 3% per year, you’d spend $55 billion more over 10 years than if it went up 2% per year. The total spending, of course, would be over $1 trillion.

So as future spending gets slightly reduced from projections, but still goes up, Democrats call this cutting the budget. And this is one good reason why government spending is so hard to control. Every interest group that receives federal funds wants to protect the cash cow and the future increases to account for future costs, like inflation. This is understandable, but we will never get our budget under control unless we can slow the growth in spending.

The article points out “spending cuts” in entitlement programs, and I believe this is also misleading. As more and more people work and fewer are getting these benefits, they should decrease. We’ve already had millions of people off food stamps in the last few  years. Would lower food-stamp expenditures be labeled as “cuts” when this happens? Of course not. The budgets are lower because there are fewer recipients.

This can come because of an improving economy, or because people are being encouraged to work because safety-net programs were not usually meant to be permanent subsidies to able-bodied adults. Another tightening of the program could be to give benefits to citizens and not immigrants unless they become citizens.

So the problem with this article is that anytime Trump wants to reduce spending or control the growth in entitlements, it sounds draconian. But when asked how we can have annual deficits forever, the Left seems to think that is not a long-term problem.

Another issue is the way the article characterizes Trump’s immigration policies. Trump has been vocal about having immigrants come legally. And he also wants immigrants from certain countries to be very carefully vetted for safety reasons. Again, these policies are not just supported by most Americans, they were the key to Trump’s election victory. Trump has a mandate to enact such policies.

But the article calls Trump’s policies his “anti-immigration platform.” This is misleading. His polices are clearly anti-illegal-immigration. As to immigrants, most politicians support legal immigration as do most Americans.

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Allen Nitschelm is publisher of PublicEditorMA.com. He critiques the Boston Globe, mostly focusing on the bias in their news reporting. News articles are graded for bias, and the website has a listing of the average bias ratings for all reporters reviewed. See our website for more information and the four categories of articles we publish.

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