by Stephen Moore · March 16, 2017
What hypocrites liberals and the media are. For weeks on end they’ve been beating up Trump for not taking the initiative on the $10 trillion debt build-up under Barrack Obama or the runaway entitlement programs that could bankrupt our nation.
Now that Trump has unveiled a budget that does both of those things, they are pouting with righteous indignation. This is a budget plan that will surgically remove trillions of dollars of wasteful spending from the obese $4 trillion federal fisc. Many agencies will have to live with cuts of 5, 10, and 30 percent while other outdated, duplicative, or unproductive programs will go to the graveyard.
It’s a gutsy document that takes on the hordes of special interest groups that populate Washington. The Washington metropolitan workforce will shrink and so the town is in cardiac arrest. The Washington Post quoted an unnamed “official” who said that his fellow workers at the Department of Housing and Urban Development” were feeling “demoralized.” Boo hoo. Then this bureaucrat added: “This is just a tough, tough time. HUD is no different than any other domestic agency in just feeling as though these cuts are all very arbitrary and unnecessary.”
Well, maybe the workers at HUD now know how “demoralized” Americans feel about the way their agency misspends tax dollars.
No surprise here that Trump, who promised to drain the swamp, is getting resistance from the people who live in the swamp. The rest of America outside the Washington beltway couldn’t be more pleased.
Liberals have moaned that Trump won’t cut entitlements — which is where the real money is. Oh, really? The Congressional Budget Office has just announced that the Republican healthcare overhaul shaves more than $1 trillion from the budget over the next decade or so.
The deep cutbacks in the State Department, foreign service, and foreign aid have been met with particular scorn. Why? The one thing Americans have been saying for decades is that they believe foreign aid is a waste of money. They’re right. Some $50 billion of economic aid money has gone to Sub-Saharan Africa and surrounding regions over the last forty years and it has bought nothing.
For all the talk of gargantuan spending cuts, most Americans probably don’t realize that the $4 trillion budget will grow to almost $5 trillion in a decade. This is no starvation budget. The government still gets bigger.
The welfare industry is complaining about cuts to housing, energy, and community development programs. They claim the safety net for the working poor is being slashed. But the working poor don’t want more Community Development Block Grants, Job Training Programs, Legal Aid and so on. They don’t want handouts, they want jobs that bring real economic development. The Trump tax cuts and the regulatory relief that will bring back industries like coal will have a much more positive impact on their lives than billions of dollars in federal welfare assistance.
Welfare programs will be forced to become more efficient and less wasteful. Is this possible? The government’s auditors at the GAO recently found more than $150 billion annually in fraudulent and erroneous payments to claimants. The fraud rate of over 10 percent is almost ten times the fraud rates of private insurance, credit card, and other private sector payment programs. It’s just that no one has ever taken a serious stab at reducing fraud and cheating in Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, EITC and so on. Trump will.
What has Washington particularly apoplectic is that Donald Trump keeps doing what he said he would do. Downsize useless government programs, cut taxes, rebuild the economy and jobs by promoting healthy and profitable businesses.
Trump’s budget, in short, is holding liberalism accountable for the trillions that have delivered pitiful results. The region of Appalachia has been showered with tens of billions of dollars of federal aid over the last 50 years and inner cities have received hundreds of billions.
Where are the jobs, where is the development, where are the good schools, the safe streets? Where is the community renewal? Why haven’t minorities — blacks and Hispanics whose incomes still lag so far behind those of whites — been lifted up. The Department of Education has spent hundreds of billions of dollars since 1980 on education programs and the test scores and graduation rates and reading proficiency aren’t improving and in many areas have declined.
When the welfare state was created, Lyndon Johnson said the “days of the dole are numbered in America.” Well, over 15,000 days later and $10 trillion spent on welfare and Americans don’t like what all this has bought.
Trump wants to move our fiscal policies in a new direction that ends waste, demands accountability and more personal responsibility, and funds only what has a proven track record of what works. He wants the government to become lean and efficient and customer friendly. The days of the IRS helpline keeping you on hold for an hour and then giving you the wrong answer must come to an end. He wants a government that begins to pay its bills.
Liberals believe this is radical and cruel. The rest of us think it is common sense.
Stephen Moore is an economic consultant with Freedom Works and a strategic partner with 32 Advisors.