The Daily Shot, Ricochet, February 28, 2017

Yesterday, President Trump released his first federal budget proposal for FY 2018. Roughly speaking, it will increase defense and security spending by $54 billion dollars, so about nine percent, and it will do so by cutting everything else (except entitlement programs) by double digits. And some things, like the EPA and foreign aid, will be cut to the bone.

 It’s important to understand that this isn’t a full budget, it’s a preliminary blueprint. What happens now is that the Office of Management and Budget will send their top line numbers to the various agencies, the agencies will work on them, haggle with OMB, and send them back. A final blueprint is expected to go to Congress by March 16, with the full budget coming in early May.

If this seems … unusual, according to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, they “are taking [the President’s] words and turning them into policies and dollars.” It is, as administration officials put it, an “America-first budget.”

The plan does not add to the current projected deficit, but it’s important to mention what it does not include: entitlement reductions, tax and revenue changes, infrastructure plans, or mandatory spending.

So there are some problems here. First, with regard to foreign aid, yeah, you can cut it, and that notion is popular, but it’s used mostly for national security policy. Large chunks go to foreign military spending and stuff like global health programs. And it’s like one percent of the federal budget (here’s a graphic).

Second, it’s not as if the US doesn’t spend a lot of money on the military. We’re top dog … by a lot. The US spends as much on the military as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, the UK, India, and Germany combined. Trump’s plan is to undo the military sequester, but the sequester only was agreed to because it included the military. The sequester was the only thing that has kept federal spending flat. And if you look at military spending in the last few years, it bobs up and down, but recent decreases reflect the Iraq and Afghanistan wars winding down (well, more or less).