Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Trump says his budget will make government ‘lean.’ It’s really a scam.

Washington Post   The president's numbers are too good to be true.

What if I told you that I could save you thousands and thousands of dollars a year, and you don’t even have to cut back on anything important in your life? What if I promised you that, just by saving a penny a day, your whole life could change for the better? What if I said you could improve your overall finances by working less and spending more?

You’d probably think that sounded too good to be true. You’d probably suspect that I was trying to scam you. You’d be right on both counts.

If early reports are accurate, President Trump’s budget blueprint will be trying to run that same scam on the American people. His budget will pretend that he can achieve huge savings without any pain. He’ll try to focus attention on huge cuts to relatively small programs — cuts that’ll be devastating for the people those programs serve but won’t make a dent in the overall budget picture. He’ll promise that he can provide public services, fund the benefits on which American families rely and make the critical investments that grow our economy, all with less tax revenue, even as he increases spending on things like a border wall. Just like all scams, this one will sound good on the surface, but it will leave us all worse off in the end.

In January, the Hill reported that Trump was crafting a budget plan with more than $10.5 trillion in cuts over the next decade, a deliberately eye-popping number. At the same time, Trump administration officials are promising that popular and critical programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will remain untouched, and that he will actually increase military spending significantly. These goals are all but impossible to reconcile. If he exempts Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (which he can’t cut, even if he wants to, without persuading Congress to change existing laws), there’s only $13.7 trillion in spending even available to cut over the next 10 years. That means Trump’s budget would have to reduce all other public services and programs — everything from veterans benefits to health-care research to highways to special education — by more than 75 percent to meet his spending-cuts goal. Like all great scams, the claim of massive cuts with no pain falls apart the moment you look a little closer.

And like all great scam artists, Trump is hoping you won’t look closer. Instead, he is hoping to distract you by focusing attention on enormous cuts to relatively small programs.

Most of the reporting in the lead-up to Trump’s budget has prominently mentioned a few notable public services that are on the chopping block. These often include the National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Legal Services Corporation. Regardless of whether you support the mission of these agencies, their budgets are comparatively tiny: Even combined, they will make up just 0.03 percent of all federal spending in 2017. Fully eliminating them is exactly the same as saving a buck on a $3,333 purchase. Moreover, these sorts of programs have been essentially flat-funded for a decade. These four, for example, will spend less this year than they did in 2007, after accounting for inflation. Trumpeting big cuts to select parts of the budget — parts that just happen to be already small and already shrinking — sounds good in a tweet, and it’s all part of the scam.

“We are going to do more with less and make the government lean and accountable to the people,” Trump said Monday morning. “We can do so much more with the money we spend.”

But the biggest part of the budget swindle happens on the other side of the ledger. Trump is throwing around huge numbers and promising to eliminate a list of relatively tiny programs, all in the hopes that you won’t notice or care that he’s trying to give an enormous tax cut to the richest people in America. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the Trump campaign’s tax plan would reduce federal tax revenue — and thereby increase federal debt — by at least $6.1 trillion. Roughly half of that money would go directly into the bank accounts of the richest 1 percent.

Of course, Trump will argue — as good snake-oil salesmen do — that picking your pockets is good for you. You can be sure he will try to sell you on the idea that enormous tax cuts for the wealthy will boost the economy for everyone. Never mind that we’ve tried that before, both at the national level with President George W. Bush’s tax cuts and at the state level — for instance, in Kansas — to no measurable effect. Never mind that the last thing a giant, multinational corporation making billions in profits and already paying little in taxes needs is another tax cut. And definitely ignore the fact that the primary beneficiaries of such a tax cut will be people like Trump and his family (though we can’t be sure how much he will profit, because Trump has still not released his tax returns).[...]


  1. Paint me "scammed". I'm loving this budget plan.

  2. Every president promises budget cuts and it is always a scam! They just define "cuts" creatively. This is looked on as a problem for those who don't like the sitting president, and as a brilliant economic plan by those who support him. Each one cuts funding from programs that he and his supporters don't like and increase spending in programs that they do like. A liberal president will likely cut funding for defence, and law enforcement, while increasing spending for social programs w hich they tout as being what america is all about. Conservatives would do just the opposite. An example of such creative budgeting: A number of years ago the president of the time (don't remember which one it was) made a big deal out of cutting the budget for College Pell Grants. He cut the maximum grant by $500 from the maximum of the prior year. This had never been done before. He made a big deal how we all have to tighten our belts due to the tremendous deficit, and the need to balace the budget. What he neglected to tell everyone was that together with thye $500.00 decrease came a $750.00 INCREASE in the form of a "special presidential emergency funding". To the parents, it was all the same. they applied for the funding together with Pell, there was no additional paperwork, the schools got the mony together with Pell, there was no difference on the outside. This is not something that is unique to President Trump! It is all presidents, and one would assume all politicians; Congress is no better. Nor is it better on the state or city level, it just gets less publicity. The onmly thing that is different by Trump is due to his feud with the media, they are highlighting issues.

  3. Rabbi Eidensohn - why do you think that the Washinton Post is 'daas torah'?

  4. Never said it was. Do you think Trump is Daas Torah or perhaps Moshiach?

  5. G-d forbid. I just find it interesting that most of your US political news posts come from the WaPo or NYT

  6. "Never mind that the last thing a giant, multinational corporation making billions in profits and already paying little in taxes needs is another tax cut"

    If it means more hiring and growth, and less outsourcing of jobs and manufacturing, then that's something we definitely need.

  7. if the tooth fairy can deliver the goods why not?

    Trump is president and he is expected to deliver the goods. To the degree he not only does not deliver the goods but makes things worse - he is being held accountable. If you have any specific complaints about the reporting of any source I use - please feel free to point it out.
    But to make a complaint because of the number of posts from these two papers without showing that they are false - is not a significant justification.


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