The double count: Trump budget includes $2 trillion accounting gimmick

Thursday, 08 Jun, 2017

Administration officials say that the limitation proposed in the budget would focus taxpayer money on families who need it the most. The federal budget is no different, except in looking a decade into the future.

-The Poor, Part III: Trump's budget would cut funding for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program by $22 billion over the next decade. Of note, the Budget calls for a new $500 million for the America's Health Block Grant to "increase State, tribal, and territorial flexibility and focus on the leading chronic disease challenges specific to each State".

Mulvaney defended that gimmick on Tuesday, saying it was done "on goal".

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), like other Democrats on the committee, scoffed at the administration's assumptions.

"The numbers add up on paper, but they don't add up in reality", said Marc Goldwein, senior vice president and policy director at Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. I agree with them that cutting funding for health research, environmental protection, housing programs and diplomacy initiatives - just to name a few examples - is damaging and wrong.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers on Wednesday that they should vote to increase the government's borrowing authority - and avert a disastrous economic default - before their August recess. Mr Mulvaney countered. "Who's going to pay the bill on this?.Because right now my unborn grandchildren are paying for it, and I think that is morally bankrupt".

Among those programs: The food stamp program, which helps low-income and disabled people buy groceries, would be reduced by $200 billion over 10 years, The New York Times reported, along with more than $800 billion from Medicaid, $192 billion from nutritional assistance and $272 billion over all from welfare programs - yes, that means Meals on Wheels. A 10-year, $193 billion reduction in food stamps - nearly 30 percent - promises to drive millions of people off the program.

White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney has said that plans to slash social programmes are created to increase economic growth to 3% and put "taxpayers first". There's little appetite among Capitol Hill Republicans for a genuine effort to balance the budget; GOP politicians this year are instead pressing to rewrite the tax code and forge a spending deal with Democrats that would permit higher military spending and restore Trump proposals to cut domestic agencies and foreign aid.

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers put it another way, writing in his blog, "It appears to be the most egregious accounting error in a presidential budget in the almost 40 years I have been tracking them". He had to sell off half of his cattle heard, more than 100 animals, because he didn't have enough hay to feed them through the winter.

Cuts come across the board, including further cuts to agriculture.

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., laced into the budget, saying it was based on fanciful economic predictions of high growth rates but low inflation and bond yields that would make managing the government's $20 trillion debt less costly.

"As a farmer, your biggest factor is mother nature, this insurance provides the protection you need to stay in business and cover input costs for the crop in the ground", Iowa Corn Growers Association president Kurt Hora said in a release.

DeVos answered that that was not the federal government's business, but was for states and locales to decide.

Research, science, culture, education and the arts all face cuts under the budget.

. She cited lack of investments in education, and says the comments are especially egregious given the president's budget proposal.

Coverage for children previously had not figured as a major issue for the administration, which separately is calling for paid parental leave. Instead, the USA taxpayer will foot the bill. "If I take money from you and show you how I can pay it back to you - that is debt".