Trump’s Budget: More Guns, Less Butter

Congress passed a bill authorizing a boost in both defense and domestic spending, but Trump wants to shift that balance much further toward defense spending along with deep cuts to social assistance programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. Yeah, I know — least surprising news ever.

The White House released a tax and spending plan Monday that would not eliminate the federal budget deficit after 10 years, its first public acknowledgment that large spending increases and the $1.5 trillion tax cut are putting severe pressure on the government’s debt…

The plan would continue to markedly increase military spending and set aside money for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. It seeks to authorize $4.4 trillion in spending for 2019, up 10 percent from the amount of money the government spent in 2017.

The plan also calls for major cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and other social programs — reductions that conservatives have long sought.

But even with these reductions, which add up to more than $3 trillion in cuts over 10 years, the proposal would not bring the budget into balance because of the lost tax revenue and higher spending on other programs.

The White House projects a large gap between government spending and tax revenue over the next decade, adding at least $7 trillion to the debt over that time. In 2019 and 2020 alone, the government would add a combined $2 trillion in debt under Trump’s plan.

But gee, he was going to not only eliminate the deficit in 8 years, he was going to pay off the entire national debt in that time, which would require an annual surplus of $2.5 trillion. He said it would be easy to do. He said this several times on the campaign trail. No rational person could possibly have believed him, of course. I mocked him for it at the time because it was a promise so ludicrous that the only possible response was pointing and laughing. But he said it, over and over again. Now he’s doing the exact opposite.

And the notion that we need to spend more on defense is simply ridiculous. We already spend almost half of all the world’s expenditures on “defense” (read: bombing and invading other countries; it really should be called offense spending). What would it take to make these people feel safe? Home of the brave? How about home of the perpetually afraid and the easily manipulated? We almost instinctively get behind every war because we fall for the marketing campaign for them every time, and those marketing campaigns are always based on an irrational fear. Seriously, before 2003 were you kept up at night by the fear that Saddam Hussein could ever have done any harm to you or this country in your wildest imagination? Or Vietnam? Or Grenada? Or Panama? Yet we fall for it, every damn time.

Trump loves military leaders and generals, perhaps he should listen to Dwight Eisenhower, one of the few five-star generals this country has ever had. On April 16, 1953, shortly after becoming president, he gave a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors in which he argued that we must decrease military spending in order to take care of our people instead. “Every gun that is made,” he said, “every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

He continued: “This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. . . . This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

The cost of a single F-35 fighter jet ranges from $178 million to $337 million, depending on which version you look at (the versions for each branch of the military are different). One plane. And that doesn’t count the more than $400 billion it took to develop it or the costs of flying it, which are higher than for any other plane in history. Trump wants more guns; the country needs more butter.

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