“The president is either brazenly lying about his 2021 budget or doesn’t know what’s in it,” writes Aaron Rupar at Vox.
Budgets are moral documents, meaning that where we put our money reflects what we believe and value. This record $4.8 trillion budget plan is a fairly immoral document. Luckily, it is a wish list and political platform, not a serious proposal with a chance of becoming law. If you want to know what’s in it, read on for a short and not-so-sweet summary, distilled from half a dozen news sources.
- Medicare and Social Security: Cut spending on Medicare by “streamlining” the program.
- Cuts to safety net programs: Cut spending on Medicaid and Affordable Care Act by a trillion dollars. Reduce eligibility and cut spending on food stamps (SNAP) by $15 billion this year. Cut federal disability insurance payments by $70 billion. Cut housing assistance.
- Immigration: Add $2 billion for the border wall. Add 1,050 Border Patrol agents and 4,600 ICE agents and immigration court prosecutors, and 100 immigration judges. Increase the number of ICE detention beds to 60,000, at a cost of $3.1 billion.
- Foreign Aid: Cut by $3.7 billion, about 8 percent, and reduce or eliminate aid to the United Nations and other international organizations.
- Environment: The 26 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency includes a mandate to “eliminate 50 EPA programs and impose massive cuts to research and development.” In the Interior Department, funding for the Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service is slashed. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is cut by 97 percent. According to the New York Times:
“The budget does not mention climate change. It also states misleadingly that air pollutant emissions dropped between 2016 and 2018, and credited the Trump administration with overseeing “some of the cleanest air and water in the world” while eliminating clean air and water regulations.
“After a decade of improvement in air quality nationally, federal data last year showed that fine particulate pollution has increased in the last two years.”
- Education: Eliminate all federally subsidized student loans and the public service loan program, which assists teachers, police, and other government workers.
- Medical: Cut the budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by nine percent.
- Military spending: Increases, of course, but cuts to intelligence gathering. (Who needs intelligence? Not this president!)
- Tax cuts, deficits, and national debt: The budget proposal extends tax cuts, which disproportionately benefit the very wealthy, at a cost of $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years. Tax cuts have driven the deficit sky-high, increasing every single year of Trump’s presidency, and reversing significant reductions made during the Obama presidency. Trump promises to eliminate the deficit by 2035, but relies on optimistic projections that have failed time after time.
The deficit is the measure of how much spending exceeds income in each year. The national debt is the cumulative consequence of borrowing year after year to make up deficits. This budget projects a $3.4 trillion increase in the national debt by 2024.
While it will take up Congressional time and political space, this remains a fantasy budget, with zero chance of being passed by Congress. For that, at least, we can be thankful.