NC Budget and Tax Center

Analysis: Trump’s ‘skinny’ budget omits 85% of details that previous administrations have included

Government budgets affect us all, whether it is the federal budget proposed by the president, a state budget agreed to between governor and legislators, or the local city budget passed by city council. All of these budgets matter, as they are all interconnected and the vehicle through which lawmakers support thriving communities. Society as a whole benefits when budgets are adequate to address needs, as well as strategic, debated, and transparent.

As previously reported, President Trump’s proposed skinny budget lacks vision as it makes no attempt to balance the allocation of money against the needs and priorities of our country. Today, however, we focus on the fact that regardless of whether people agree with the President’s policies, his released skinny budget fails the country as it does not to contain valuable information when compared to the skinny budgets of previous administrations, both Republican and Democratic.

Trump’s skinny budget contains substantially less detail than skinny budgets of the past five administrations, going back to Ronald Reagan. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) conducted an analysis of President Trump’s skinny budget and found it did not provide any details for six out of the seven assessed budget areas (see chart below). The budget areas with no details were: grand totals for budget, spending levels, proposed policy changes, revenue proposals, entitlement proposals, and economic assumptions.

In other words, Trump’s skinny budget omitted 85 percent of the budget details that previous administrations have included. Analysis also shows that, while previous administrations have provided details over multiple years (the two most recent administrations — Bush and Obama — covered 10 years), Trump provides figures for only one year.

Government officials and policymakers should know that this is lack of information and transparency is not acceptable. People expect, as they rightly should, that government operations and reporting be effective and efficient. President Trump needs to learn that politics should not interfere with good government management practices in the budget process.

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