President Trump has released his first budget proposal. Considering the things he has said about infrastructure and health care, it could have been a lot worse. Trump’s initial proposal calls for a cut of $13.6 billion or 1.2% in discretionary spending. That is a drop in the bucket, but considering the question that is asked in the halls of the bureaucracy is not “How much do we need to fulfill our mission?” but rather “How much more do we need as compared to last year?,” some cuts are certainly better than no cuts. Trump’s budget is far from perfect. For example, resurrects the Export-Import Bank.
Voices on the left were quick to show how awful they believed the cuts to be. Despite its general moderation, if one were to listen to the left, one would think that Trump proposed to cut non-defense discretionary spending by 50% (as if that would be a bad thing). We will never solve this country’s financial problems if we cannot even cut 1.2% of discretionary spending without the left predicting Armageddon.
The National Endowment for the Arts is on the chopping block and the left is not happy. How could anyone oppose the arts? What will the civilized world do if Andres Serrano does not receive his federal subsidy? They act is if the NEA is the driving force behind the arts. There was a great quality of art produced prior to 1965, and there will be without the NEA.
Cutting funding to PBS, we are told, would hurt Elmo and who would want to do that? Trump is not going kill Sesame Street because Elmo, Big Bird, all their friends are longer employed by PBS. Since the government has no power over HBO, all the little children of America can relax knowing Elmo is safe.
Another subsidy that Trump cuts is for Meals on Wheels. Prior to last week nobody had ever heard of Meals on Wheels, but now if you do not support subsidizing them you cannot honestly call yourself a Christian (I thought we were supposed to keep our religion out of politics). Meals on Wheels receives only 3% of its funding from the federal government and the publicity surrounding the proposed cuts to that subsidy proves Meals on Wheels can survive on its own, as all true charity should.
The idea that your moral character is tied into how much you support government programs has done great damage the country’s fiscal condition. It has been a bipartisan problem. Look no further than Trump and Congressional leadership buying into the left’s narrative that government has a significant role to play in health care.
The United States spends a lot of money on defense; we know this because the left is always reminding us. If only we would spend more on education and health care we could become a truly civilized nation. There is no evidence that the answer to solving education in this country is more spending. The same can be said of health care. If we were to following Bernie Sanders’ advice and institute a single payer plan, there would be disastrous results. The reason single payer inevitably leads to long waiting periods and rationing is because budgetary concerns limit the amount of health care that can be distributed to patients.
If the federal government is to ever get serious about addressing the country’s fiscal state, it must reverse three assumptions that have gotten us into this predicament. The first being that in order to support something you must be in favor of subsidizing it, the second being that your moral character is directly correlated into how much you support government programs, and finally that spending more money improves the quality of the thing you are spending the money on.