Here’s the thing: Trump’s ‘America First’ budget is ridiculous, assuming you’re the type of person who appreciates the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and programs that feed hungry senior citizens, and yes, it is not a balanced budget whatsoever and would certainly be detrimental in a multitude of ways.
But before the internet explodes via fear-inducing Tweets, here’s a nice and non-catastrophic bundle of information that makes this budget a little less frightening (but not any less ridiculous).
To put it simply, Trump’s budget means nothing.
Okay, maybe not nothing, but in reality, presidential budgets are almost entirely symbolic. The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 requires the president to submit an annual budget proposal to Congress, but it is just that, a proposal – Congress rarely says, “I do.”
Ultimately, Congress holds the ‘power of the purse,’ and therefore, they are in charge of drafting and passing an annual budget, not the president. They execute their monetary power in the form of appropriation bills. Sure, the president could have some veto power, but even then there are checks and balances in place that prevent a complete overhaul of the budget.
After all, the fed is not allowed to spend any money whatsoever without proper authorization and appropriation by Congress, and knowing Congress, said authorization is overly-complicated and time consuming process that frankly couldn’t occupy the attention span of our President’s one-page, bullet-point intelligence briefings.
So why are presidential budgets important at all?
Great question, me.
Presidential budgets, especially those passed by newly-elected presidents, are essentially all of their campaign promises monetized. They are often a reflection of their platform – a blueprint that says, “If I had it my way…” Further, it is a way for the president to show his supporters that he is fulfilling what he promised them.
During the financial crisis, Obama campaigned as an agent of change. His first budget reflected that change by focusing on job creation and long-term economic growth. Obama believed that carelessness and lacking responsibility in Washington contributed to the recession which is clearly reflected in the title of his budget request, A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America’s Promise.
Trump’s budget, on the other hand, focuses its attention on his “big, beautiful wall,” school voucher programs and defense, as if we don’t already spend more than all other world powers combined, but I digress.
In order to finance his nonsensical ideas, he proposed massive cuts to pretty much every department you can think of (excluding the VA, Homeland Security and obviously, Defense). By doing so, federal funding would be eliminated for 80 programs like Meals on Wheels and U.N. Climate Investment Funds.
White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director Mick Mulvaney, who worked with Trump while creating this budget, explained that he, “Took his words and turned them into numbers.”
So yes, this budget is just as unreasonable and alarming as his campaign promises were, and yes, if it were to be implemented it would surely cause more harm than good.
But the reality is, this budget is completely emblematic and, to Trump’s dismay, has absolutely no jurisdiction over federal spending, that power remains reserved for Congress.
It is not the time to mourn the loss of the Arctic via monetary policy, at least not yet. While Trump can’t change anything, it is likely that a Republican controlled House and Senate will take advantage of this opportunity, so stay vigilant and informed and remember who really holds the power of the purse.