Former President Donald Trump has unveiled a plan to “cut waste, stop inflation, and crush the ‘Deep State‘” of entrenched bureaucrats, his campaign said in a June 20 news release.
Trump said that, if elected to a second term in office, he would invoke his presidential power to delay or halt expenditures that he considers wasteful, despite congressional approvals.
“I will use the president’s long-recognized impoundment power to squeeze the bloated federal bureaucracy for massive savings,” Trump said in the release, which included a video message from the former president. “This will be in the form of tax reductions for you. This will help quickly to stop inflation and slash the deficit.”
The latest announcement is part of the Trump campaign’s effort to keep advancing his policy positions even while the former president faces historic state and federal indictments over his alleged misuse of documents.
Now campaigning to become the nation’s 47th president, Trump has posted more than two dozen policy-related videos under the title “Agenda 47,” including his position on impoundment.
Trump is the current frontrunner for the Republican nomination. And, according to the RealClear Politics average, he holds a slight lead over the incumbent president and leading Democrat candidate, President Joe Biden.
At the same time, Biden is also under scrutiny for his handling of classified government documents, and Republicans in Congress have been probing the Biden family’s multimillion-dollar foreign business deals. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, has admitted to federal charges involving taxes.
Although Trump was blamed for adding to the national deficit during his tenure, he also made cutbacks during his administration. He reduced the number of White House employees and limited how much time public employees could work for unions while drawing government pay.
Since then, the national debt has continued to climb. It recently reached an all-time high of $32 trillion, The Epoch Times previously reported.
Trump blames Biden for wasting “trillions of taxpayer dollars” after his presidency began in 2021, causing “uncontrolled inflation that is crushing working families.”
“Reining in Biden’s wasteful and unnecessary spending is vital to stopping inflation and rescuing our economy from ruin,” Trump said.
Presidents’ power to curtail congressional spending took a hit after the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (CBA) took effect. That act “handcuffed” the presidential power to halt wasteful spending, Trump said, adding, “This is the only way we will ever return a balanced budget: Impoundment.”
Trump is touting the impoundment proposal even though he came under fire for using that power during his tenure as the nation’s 45th president, from 2017-21.
In 2019, Congress began an impeachment of Trump, partly for his decision to temporarily freeze $250 million in aid that Congress appropriated to help Ukraine defend itself. A government watchdog agency later said it was improper for Trump to block the money. The funds were eventually released to Ukraine.
Now Trump declares: “When I return to the White House, I will do everything I can to challenge the Impoundment Control Act in court, and, if necessary, get Congress to overturn it. We will overturn it.”
Trump called impoundment “a crucial tool with which to obliterate the Deep State, drain the swamp, and starve the warmongers … and the Globalists out of government.”
“With impoundment, we can simply choke off the money,” Trump said, calling the policy “anti-inflation, anti-Swamp, anti-globalist—and it’s pro-growth, pro-taxpayer, pro-American, and pro-freedom.”
“I alone can get that done. I will get it done and Make America Great Again,” he said, repeating his well-known campaign slogan.
Impoundment As a Tool
Trump’s release argues that, while the Constitution does grant Congress the authority to set a “ceiling” on spending, Congress “should not set the floor,” or minimum level of spending.
The CBA “dramatically limited” impoundment, Trump said. As a result, presidents have been forced “to spend every penny of congressionally appropriated funds,” he said.
Trump and his team argue that the Founding Fathers of the United States intended impoundment to be part of the “checks and balances” baked into the American government structure.
Under the Constitution, the president is empowered to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” That phrase “has historically been understood to mean that the president can impound funds when doing so allows him to enforce the law more effectively and efficiently,” Trump’s release says.
But “the CBA placed crippling burdens on the use of impoundment authority and on the president’s negotiating leverage with Congress over how taxpayer dollars are spent, leaving Congress with virtually unchecked budget authority,” the release said.
“This disaster of a law is clearly unconstitutional—a blatant violation of the separation of powers,” Trump commented in his video.
As a result, wasteful spending has ballooned, Trump’s release says, pointing out that “Congress has run deficits in all but four years since 1974.”
In addition, a Government Accountability Office report showed that the federal government improperly made payments totaling $247 billion in 2022, the Trump team points out.
“For 50 years, Congress has used the CBA to force the passage of gigantic, wasteful spending packages,” the release said, noting that Congress has adopted on-time budget resolutions only six times since the law’s enactment.
Impoundment power dates back to President Thomas Jefferson, the nation’s third president from 1801-09, “and the earliest days of the American Republic,” the release said. Many presidents have invoked the impoundment power over the years, including Democrats such as James Buchanan and Ulysses S. Grant; it also is “regularly used by 43 governors across the U.S.,” the release said.
“Very simply, this meant that if Congress provided more funding than was needed to run the government, the president could refuse to waste the extra funds and instead return the money to the general treasury and maybe even lower your taxes,” Trump said in his video.
Trump pledged: “On Day One, I will order every federal agency to begin identifying large chunks of their budgets that can be saved through efficiencies and waste reduction using impoundment.”
National defense, Medicare, and Social Security would be exempt from the impoundment cutbacks, Trump said, adding: “Some of the funds we save through impoundment from other parts of the government can be used to strengthen Medicare and Social Security for years to come.”