Everyone in Washington hates Donald Trump’s new budget. So it must have something going for it. This is a budget plan that will surgically remove trillions of dollars of wasteful spending from the obese $3.9 trillion federal budget. Many agencies will have to live with cuts of 5, 10 and 30 percent, while other outdated, duplicative or unproductive programs will go to the graveyard.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 hoards of special-interest groups that populate Washington, D.C. 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.” Boohoo. Then the anonymous 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.
The deep cutbacks in the State Department, foreign service and foreign aid have been met with particular scorn by liberals. But why? Americans have been saying for decades that they believe foreign aid is a waste of money. They’re right. Some $50 billion of aid money has gone to sub-Saharan Africa and surrounding regions over the last 40 years and it has bought nothing.
The welfare industry is complaining about cuts to housing, energy, and community-development programs. They claim that 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 such as coal will have a much more positive impact on their lives than billions of dollars of federal assistance.
Welfare programs will be forced to become more efficient and less wasteful. The government’s auditors at the Government Accountability Office recently found more than $110 billion annually in fraudulent and erroneous payments to claimants. No one has ever taken a serious stab at reducing fraud and cheating in Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, earned income tax credits and so on. Trump will.
Trump’s budget, in short, is holding liberalism accountable for the trillions of dollars spent that have delivered pitiful results. The region of Appalachia has been showered with tens of billions of dollars in 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?
When the welfare state was created, Lyndon Johnson said that the “days of the dole in this country are numbered.” Fifteen thousand days and $10 trillion in welfare later, 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, funding only what has a proven track record of working. He wants to unplug government programs from their perpetual life machine. Government must become lean and efficient and customer friendly. It must begin to pay its bills.
Liberals believe this is radical and cruel. The rest of us think it is common sense.
Stephen Moore is a distinguished visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a senior economic analyst with CNN. To find out more about Stephen Moore and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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