by Washington Examiner · March 18, 2017
President Trump’s administration, unlike its predecessor, understands that when a federal program is failing, it might be time to end it rather than shovel more money into it. That much is clear not just in the programs eliminated in Trump’s proposed budget, but in justifications given for many of the cuts.
The $202 million International Food for Education program? Eliminated, because it “lacks evidence that it is being effectively implemented to reduce food insecurity.” The $2.4 billion Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program? Gone, because it is “poorly targeted and spread thinly across thousands of districts with scant evidence of impact.” The $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program? Erased, because it “has not demonstrated results.”
In addition to saving taxpayer money, this puts bureaucrats on notice that they must prove effective and worth the money or they’ll be on the chopping block.
In his press conference Thursday, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney did a fantastic job answering loaded questions on these issues, emphasizing that, “We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good.”
This contrasts with the liberal view that failure must, on moral grounds, be rewarded with more money and bureaucrats. Haven’t they heard about not throwing good money after bad?
The Trump administration seems mostly to understand that programs should be judged not by their intentions, but by their results.
But we’ll have to wait until we get full details before we know that Trump and Mulvaney will take the same approach to other crucial parts of the budget, such as veterans affairs, defense, and entitlements.
Trump proposes to increase spending on veterans and defense. While that may be needed, the focus must be on quality, not quantity. Simply increasing top-line spending won’t help if it’s wasteful spending.
Trump proposes $4.4 billion more for the Department of Veterans Affairs, a 6 percent increase. It’s not clear how much of that will be useful. The budget blueprint merely says it “extends and funds the Veterans Choice Program to ensure that every eligible veteran continues to have the choice to seek care at VA or through a private provider.” The choice to seek care through a private provider is exactly what more veterans need, as shown by the sad tragedy that is the hundreds of thousands of veterans who died on VA waiting lists.
Trump requests a $52 billion increase for the Defense Department, about a 10 percent hike from its current budget. That’s fine, as long as the money is spent wisely. Thankfully, Trump’s blueprint says, “Unlike spending increases for war, which mostly consume resources in combat, the increases in the President’s Budget primarily invest in a stronger military.”
If Trump and Mulvaney take the same results-over-intentions approach to defense, veterans affairs, and entitlement spending that they took to the rest of the budget, expect to see a leaner, more efficient federal government.