Today, President Trump announced directions to federal agencies that suggest his plan for the federal budget will be deep cuts to non-defense discretionary spending to pay for significant increases in the country’s defense budget.
President Trump suggested that he would seek a 10 percent increase in defense spending and find cuts to meet the estimated $54 billion required to do so in programs that protect the health and well-being of Americans, provide quality and affordable education and job training and support the infrastructure of a global economy.
Here are just three reasons to be concerned about this preliminary direction for the federal budget process:
- Areas of the budget that will likely be cut to pay for increases in defense spending are portions that help Americans access economic opportunities and support institutions that are vital to a healthy economy and democracy. Many of the poverty reduction programs likely to be hit hard play a critical role in the economic security of working-age adults who lack a bachelor’s degree and help strengthen the broader economy.
- The 2011 Budget Control Act put in place spending caps on defense and domestic programs, some of which will come into direct conflict with President Trump’s proposal. Changes to this act have the potential to shift costs elsewhere, increasing cuts in certain budget areas or growing the long-term budget deficit. As has been evidenced by sequestration, or automatic budget cuts to date, access to child care, housing and other programs supported with federal dollars ripples through local communities in ways that limit improvements in developmental and economic outcomes of children and their families.
- President Trump’s budget announcement today doesn’t detail the various ways in which competing proposals, like plans for infrastructure development, campaign promises to protect entitlements and efforts to cut taxes for the wealthy, will be reconciled in a final budget.