President Trump: I’ve Got Your Five Percent Budget Cuts Right Here

By Dustin Siggins Published on October 21, 2018

The federal deficit and national debt have soared under President Donald Trump and Congress. In response, Trump asked his Cabinet to cut their agency’s budgets by five percent. Will that help? A little, but not enough.

What Does The Proposal Mean?

USA TODAY noted four key weaknesses in Trump’s plan. First, Congress can ignore the cuts. The GOP did that in early 2018 when Trump proposed cutting 62 programs.

Second, agency cuts have no effect on Social Security, Medicare, and other programs which drive our long-term national debt.

Third, near-term budget deficits have jumped thanks to tax cuts which were not offset with budget cuts and big increases in national defense spending. Trump defended the latter as necessary to fix a military which was “falling apart.”

Fourth, budget experts the newspaper cited say that a five percent cut would total a few tens of billions of dollars. A lot of money. But a small amount compared to a projected trillion-dollar deficit in 2019.

What can the average person do in light of these facts and how Republicans and Democrats regularly talk big but cut nothing in the budget? The most important thing is to keep up the pressure. The second thing to do is give them specific advice on where to cut. Third, get ready for the budget crisis that both parties agree is on its way.

With Election Day around the corner, here are some cuts you can demand your representatives take action on.

This Should Be Bipartisan: Eliminating Improper Payments

The most bipartisan way to cut spending is to find that which is inefficient. Philosophical disagreements on Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance shouldn’t matter when reducing improper payments. Several Medicare and Medicaid programs have about 10 percent of their budgets lost to improper payments. Unemployment insurance loses over 12 percent.

Just four Medicare and Medicaid programs have over $88 billion in improper payments. This is a lot of money. But it just scratches the surface.

The official improper payment estimate for 2017 was $141 billion. As I reported earlier this year, this 3.5 percent estimate is likely lowJust 78 percent of the federal government was examined due to limits in federal law. Second, many agencies don’t have reliable methods of assessment. For example, the Government Accountability Office reports that method of analysis used by the Office of Management & Budget may not give accurate figures.

Congress continues to be AWOL on their duties to stop this. Two bipartisan bills passed a Senate Committee in June. The full Senate hasn’t even looked at them.

About That Defense Budget…

Trump and many other Republicans believe that a strong Defense Department must have more money. However, as reported at The Stream last year, some spending makes the Pentagon more expensive without improving national defense:

The Defense Department is full of corruption. In 2014, the Army lied to Congress about a fraud-ridden program. The Washington Post reports that the Pentagon hid $125 billion in savings. And a 2011 report from Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) found companies involved with or guilty of fraud received over one trillion dollars in defense contracts. Almost $400 billion was issued after findings of guilt.

More recently, a plan to reduce Defense Department cost overruns through changes in payment schedules and performance-based incentives for contractors was scrapped after pressure from Republicans at the behest of the affected industries.

The Tom Price Problem

Former Trump Cabinet Secretary Tom Price reimbursed taxpayers for $51,887.31 for inappropriate use of private charter planes while he was Secretary. Price’s repayment took place only after his travel was exposed.

However, Price’s full travel costs were many times the amount he repaid. Staff and Price’s wife often traveled with him. The real costs of his extravagant travel choices may total over one million dollars.

Price isn’t the only one with unethically expensive habits. A 2012 General Services Administration trip to Las Vegas cost over $800,000. Costs covered a host of activities. The man who ran the trip was convicted and ordered to pay partial restitution.

Congress has its own waste. There have been $17 million in settlements for sexual harassment and discrimination. They became public in 2017. They have gone on for two decades.

Will Anything Happen?

Clearly, we have a lot of corruption and incompetence in the federal government. Cutting just that would eliminate untold billions in the federal budget. However, spending wisely — one of the responsibilities of Congress and agency leaders — is clearly not a priority.

Who can blame them? Most Americans don’t want budget cuts. Even the Tea Party’s pressure on Republicans got only modest results.

That’s the bad news. The good news…well, there isn’t any. Unless you can convince a majority of voters to elect good leaders, a debt crisis on its way. Better buckle up!

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  • rick dean

    When the author can’t bring himself to name the current President, I knew immediately how biased this article was going to be . BTW dustin, it’s President Trump. With a capital P (but then you knew that didn’t you).

    He then goes on to link articles from USA TODAY, The Washington Post and Bernie Sanders. All true bastions of conservatism. (Of course I jest.)

    Before I go, let me fix that first line for you.

    The federal deficit and national debt soared under former President Obama. President Trump is doing everything within his power to reduce them.

    • Dave

      Actually, the federal deficit was reduced under Obama. It’s actually soaring under Trump during a period of economic growth with no major wars. This is not easy to accomplish.

      • Jim Walker

        Correcting mistakes require money, dave.

      • Ray

        Fake news.

      • Patmos

        The return of the troll.

      • Karen

        You are entirely correct and no one at this website will listen to you. Thank you for at least making an effort to shine a light in this dark place.

      • Charles Burge

        Obama ran a 1 TRILLION DOLLAR deficit during his first year on office. The following year, it was “only” half a trillion. That’s the so-called reduction you’re talking about.

        People need to learn the difference between “deficit” and “debt”. They aren’t the same thing, and obfuscating them is a problem in both parties.

      • Bryan

        I seem to remember the deficit growing under Bush and Obama. Didn’t it hit multiple trillions before the 2016 election cycle even began? Or am I thinking of a different economic indicator?
        Also, we’re still fighting a war in Afghanistan. Just ask the troops and other personnel stationed there.

        • Dave

          Information about the deficit can be obtained with a few clicks of a mouse. And our presence in Afghanistan certainly isn’t a major war. Stay in school and study hard, young man. You’ll be alright

          • Bryan

            I’m sorry, I was thinking of national debt, which doubled under Bush and again under Obama. The deficit did decrease under President Obama after tripling during the first year of his presidency until his last year as President. And yes the initial increase was due, primarily, to the bailouts that began at the end of 2008.
            To say that it is soaring under President Trump is as disingenuous as Mr. Dean’s comment above stating that it soared under President Obama.
            Define the term “major war”. Depending on how you define the term, President’s Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, etc. have not had major wars during their presidencies either. So it would not be a relevant factor in the federal deficit discussion.

          • Dave

            Actually there were two major wars during W’s administration. I’m quite surprised you’re not aware of that. When you get to high school you’ll learn about that in history class.

            And confusing debt and deficit is common. Freshman year economics classes address that or you could consult an online dictionary

          • Bryan

            Before I was giving you the benefit of the doubt but you have confirmed that you really are as arrogant as you appear. This is rather interesting coming from the same Dave that condemned people who thought building a wall was a good idea because, in your own opinion, they didn’t care about other people’s feelings or hardships.
            As to your point, I agree that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are major wars. In fact, we are still fighting a war in Afghanistan. But that is not what I asked. I asked you to define a major war. You have not done so but have flipped your position on the Afghanistan war.
            On debt and deficit, I need to pay more attention to the words used when people are discussing economics on the news and make sure that I properly categorize the figures that are spouted off so as to not mix them up when I need to recall them.

          • Charles Burge

            Ha ha if you’re going to be so smarmy, you should back it up with actual facts. Here are the deficits for each year since 2008, in billions:

            2008: $458
            2009: $1,413
            2010: $1,294
            2011: $1,295
            2012: $1,087
            2013: $679
            2014: $485
            2015: $438
            2016: $585
            2017: $665
            2018: $779

            The only reason it “reduced” under Obama is because he ran a 1.4 TRILLION dollar deficit his first year. To say it’s “soaring” under Trump is a gross overstatement when you look at historical precedent.

          • Bryan

            To be completely fair, much of the increase between 2008 and 2009 was the TARP and other bailouts at the end of 2008 which would have been included in FY2009. So that would part of Bush’s legacy not Obama’s. However, the deficit did increase at the end of Obama’s term and the national debt doubled during the 8 years of Bush and again in the 8 years of Obama.
            Dave does seem to be doing his best to as patronizing as possible to anyone he perceives as being less “woke” than himself.

  • Ray

    There is a dirty money swamp to drain. Politicians make dirty money by running the nation into debt. Congress could outlaw fake corporations and other ways they get rich by ways contrary to serving the people. We need a new congress that will work to tie it’s own dirty hands.

  • Patmos

    There are issues far bigger at hand, including: trillions in the US unaccounted for, massive debt around the world, and the standing of the Petrodollar among other things.

    The irony though is Trump is positioned to build a better world order than the globalists ever could, but of course order was never their goal in the first place.

  • You left out the primary reason the Tea Party was not successful — the GOP establishment and the Democrats colluded to prevent them from establishing non-profit groups. Remember Lois Lerner, head of the IRS? A second cause — the GOP itself didn’t want more conservatives in power, and Karl Rove, Mitch McConnell, and other spent and spend lots of money to prevent conservatives from getting into power.

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