Donald Trump’s budget proposal is a small step toward economic reality. The president recently released his budget proposal in outline, “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.” The proposed increases in programs like defense, and cuts in others such as the National Endowment for The Arts, are being criticized. Indeed, Trump’s proposal has garnered serious criticism from both sides of the political and ideological aisles.
Whatever one may think of Trump’s proposal, the overall spending in the budget proposal is a slight drop from the last proposal of the Obama administration. The decrease in overall spending is about one percent. That is a step, albeit a small step, toward recognizing the hard, economic reality for this nation and its future. Trump is willing to take this small but daunting step.
It is generally wise to view presidential proposals a bit skeptically. Most budget proposals and projections made by presidents in the past have resulted in increasing, rather than decreasing, spending. During a recent interview, President Trump reveals one stunning statement in particular. One which should decrease skepticism about his intentions to actually follow through with this effort to fix a broken economy.
Trump was interviewed by Tucker Carlson on the Fox News program, “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” During the interview, he said:
I have good job numbers…4.6, 4.7 percent and I’m supposed to take a bow, but they’re not really the numbers, because you have people who want jobs who have given up looking for jobs, and when you start adding those numbers onto your numbers, it’s not really reflective of what I see.
President Trump is referring to The Labor Force Participation Rate when he speaks of those who want jobs who have given up looking. The rate measures the number of people actually in the workforce compared to those who could be in the workforce. The total of people who could be in the workforce includes those who are ages 16 and up. This total excludes those who are retired and past age 60.
A significant figure in the Labor Force Participation Rate is the number of people who had been looking for work that gave up their search. The Jobs Report does not count these people among the unemployed. President Trump was speaking of them when he spoke about the job numbers. That is a stunning revelation by any president, let alone Trump. He showed a rare touch of humility when he alluded that he should not claim responsibility for low job numbers.
Why is this such an astounding thing for Trump to say? For one thing, rarely does anyone in politics do this. They do not acknowledge that official job reports are really fudging the numbers. After all, the unemployment numbers were counted using this method during the previous president’s tenure, as well as President Bush and President Clinton’s tenures. Politicians naturally take credit for low unemployment numbers, right? Trump did not. That is both refreshing and, more importantly, a realistic assessment on the president’s part.
Trump’s budget proposal is a small step toward economic reality. The reality is that the economy is in serious trouble. The federal government is spending at record rates and creating a national debt approaching $20 trillion. This figure can be mind-boggling. One way to imagine such a number would be to break it down into daily amounts. If a person possessed just $1 trillion and attempted to spend it $1 million a day, it would take 2,740 years. The United States owes that staggering amount 20 times over to various nations around the globe.
The national debt has a profound, if often unnoticed, impact on the national economy. Each year the U.S. operates according to a budget usually proposed by the president and approved by Congress. If such a budget cannot be passed, Congress introduces a continuing resolution to fund the government at current levels of spending. A continuing resolution authorizes the raising of the national debt limit. This is the amount the government is allowed by law to borrow, in order to fund its programs. When the limit is raised, the debt increases. The Trump administration will be facing the debt limit ceiling issue, along with Congress, in April 2017.
The unnoticed item in these budgets and resolutions is servicing the national debt, which is impossible to pay in full. It is far too large to make, even, a yearly payment of the principal. Instead, there is money allocated in the budget to pay the interest on the national debt. If the nation did not pay at least the interest, the U.S. would default on its loans. The public obligation, which is what the taxpayers must legally pay if default happens, is at its highest level ever of over 70 percent. Trump realizes this must change.
During Fiscal Year 2016, the federal government owed almost $433 billion on the interest alone. When the debt limit is raised, the amount the federal government pays in interest also increases. Which means the amount the public pays increases. It is a vicious cycle of economic despair. The Trump budget offers some hope that this cycle can be broken.
The hard reality of this situation is that the spending level in the nation is unsustainable. Social Security is set to be the hardest hit by this harsh reality because it receives the largest amount of money from the government. The Congressional Budget Office projections show that the Social Security Trust fund will be broke in 12 years. The children of today will be saddled with an impossible situation in this short amount of time.
Trump’s budget proposal is a small step toward economic reality because it at least recognizes the reality of the numbers. One of the characters in the 2013 science fiction film, “Pacific Rim” may have said it best, when he exclaimed “…politics, promises, these are lies. Numbers do not lie. Numbers are the closest thing we get to the handwriting of God.” The reality of the economic numbers cannot be ignored for much longer in this country. If Trump is serious about the “Making America Great Again” title from his budget proposal, it is time for Americans to understand the cost of running the country.
By Daniel Osborn
Edited by Cathy Milne
CELEBRITY NET WORTH: The 100 Richest People in The World
CNN: Trump proposes defense spending boost, $54 billion in cuts to ‘most federal agencies’
Congressional Budget Office: CBO’s 2016 Long-Term Projections for Social Security: Additional Information
GPO: America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again
Independent Journal Review: President Trump Talks Down Jobs Report, Vows of Discouraged Workers He Aims to ‘Take Care of These People’
Money Crashers: What is the REAL National U.S. Unemployment Rate – Why the Numbers Can Be Misleading
The Hill: Gop lawmaker calls for change to how government measures unemployment
Treasury Direct: Interest Expense on the Debt Outstanding
The Patriot Post: Trump’s Budget Axe Falls on Discretionary Spending
The Washington Post: Trump federal budget 2018: Massive cuts to the arts, science, and the poor
USA TODAY: Here’s the truth about Meals on Wheels in Trump’s Budget
Featured and Top Images – Courtesy of Greg Skidmore’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License