President Trump’s White House is reportedly building a fiscal 2018 budget proposal that aims to balance the federal budget in 10 years and cut $800 billion from entitlement programs.
According to Paul M. Krawzak, reporting for Roll Call, Social Security and Medicare will remain untouched. The president campaigned against spending cuts to entitlement programs. However, sources that spoke to Roll Call said the proposal will seek to cut a “wide array of means-tested, mandatory spending programs including Medicaid” over the next 10 years.
I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid. Huckabee copied me.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2015
Food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income, child nutrition programs, and the Pell Grant program are potential welfare programs that the budget may address.
“The budget will include proposals to reduce the cost of the Social Security Disability Insurance program, which is not means-tested,” Krawzak reports.
If true, these proposed reforms are a good step in the right direction. Federal entitlement programs account for 60 percent of the budget and 12 percent of GDP. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are the biggest contributors to the national debt, which is rapidly approaching $20 trillion. In March, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the federal debt will reach 150 percent of gross domestic product – that’s all the wealth produced in the U.S. – by 2047 at its current rate of growth. This is unsustainable.
Entitlement reform is necessary to America’s fiscal stability. But do Republicans have the political will to address this problem?
Consider the widely praised Paul Ryan budget plan of FY 2013. When push came to shove, Republicans capitulated to the Democrats, and Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., struck a deal with Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., that increased spending and failed to reform entitlements. Conservatives were told to wait for a Republican-controlled Senate and a Republican president to achieve real spending reform.
Well, conservatives waited. And when President Donald Trump revealed a “skinny budget” proposal, it did not propose reforms to entitlements. While compensating defense spending increases with domestic spending cuts, the Trump skinny budget still carried a $488 billion deficit. And congressional Republicans blasted those few spending victories as “draconian” cuts to their favorite government programs.
If Republicans, in the majority, were unwilling to support Trump’s budget proposal then, why should we expect them to support more spending cuts in the future? Further, assuming that there are enough Republicans in Congress who will go along with the president’s proposal, what happens when the Democrats threaten a government shutdown? Why should conservatives expect them to fight when last time they surrendered?
President Trump should be encouraged to fight for every penny of this rumored $800 billion entitlement reform. The evidence suggests congressional Republicans won’t.