Expect Another Shutdown

11 March 2019


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Trump's Budget is Dead on Arrival


While the official federal budget for fiscal year 2020 will not be released for a couple hours yet, much of the broad details have leaked. It is the usual nightmare of conservative nonsense with a boost to military spending and a 5% cut in non-defense spending. The fiscal year begins October 1, 2019, so there is time to pass a budget. However, Mr. Trump's budget is dead-on-arrival because the Democrats hold the House, and the House is the place where financial legislation must begin according to the Constitution.

The release of the president's proposed budget used to be a thing of high drama, proving that politics is show business for those lacking in physical attractiveness. Since the Republican takeover of the House in 1994, however, the president's proposals have largely been ignored. Even when the House and president have been of the same party, the Congress tended to do as it pleased.

There are different departmental budgets that must be passed before the October 1 start to the new fiscal year, and in the last several years, that has not happened. Instead, Congress got by with omnibus spending bills and continuing resolutions. The first lumped it all into one piece of legislation and the second kept spending at existing levels while the politics got settled.

This year, there is a twist that might actually force the country's elected officials to do their jobs. In 2011, the Congress passed a law that forced across-the-board spending cuts in the future to bring the budget into balance. The Republican Party blew this to bits last year with their massive spending cuts, putting a trillion dollars on the national credit card. As they did so, they failed to repeal the 2011 limited. So, unless Congress and the White House cannot find a way to lift the caps or otherwise deal with them, discretionary spending will fall by 10%, about $126 billion.

Mr. Trump is going to ask for $8.6 billion for his Maginot Line along the southern border, a thoroughly inadequate sum to construct such a barrier and more than in his demand in December that brought about a 5-week government shutdown. In all likelihood, this will be a major bone of contention despite the fact that is it a rounding error in a budget set to exceed $4 trillion.

If the two sides can get passed the issue of the Maginot Line, there are plenty more issues that can derail the budget process. Healthcare will be a major challenge as the Republicans want to kill off Obamacare and cut Medicaid by billions.

The Washington Post noted, "The budget would call for severe reductions at a number of federal agencies. It will propose a 12 percent cut at the Education Department, a 12 percent cut at the Department of Health and Human Services, an 11 percent cut at the Interior Department, a 23 percent cut at the State Department, a 32 percent cut at the Environmental Protection Agency and a 22 percent cut at the Transportation Department." The Democrats will resist those every step of the way.

Throw in the debt ceiling limit that the government will hit soon enough, and the US is well on its way to further government shutdowns and fiscal folly.

© Copyright 2019 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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