Time to set commonsense priorities

Trump’s budget challenges Washington’s failed political orthodoxy

It’s the first federal budget ever written by a businessman.

 

It felt great just to type that sentence.

Of course, President Donald Trump’s first proposed budget – with sharp cuts to pet programs that have vocal supporters – will send shockwaves through a government that never met a spending idea it didn’t like. It won’t be easy to take on entrenched interests, and the president won’t get everything he wants.

As he well knows, that’s the nature of negotiation.

But what a great place to start.

Mr. Trump’s budget bolsters defense spending by 10 percent after our Armed Forces’ apparatus was badly neglected over the past eight years – even as the “leading from behind” diminution of American influence and leadership led to a proportionately more dangerous world.

The usual suspects will howl at the budget’s notion of cutting funding for such sacred cows as the National Endowment for the Arts. But while the idea of leaving a thriving culture to posterity is shared by all, can tax dollars be justified for that when we’re also leaving our offspring $20 trillion in operating debt and some $100 trillion in future unpaid-for entitlements?

As Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul notes, Washington borrows nearly $1 million a minute.

Nor is the federal bureaucracy – represented and protected so well by an entrenched, careerist, ruling elite in Congress – going to like having itself cut back: 12 of 15 Cabinet agencies would be trimmed by the Trump budget.

Fans of the motion picture Dave will remember fondly that an ordinary citizen acting as president brings in his accountant friend to cut the federal budget using good, old-fashioned common sense. Guess what: We finally have an actual president doing it.

Again, the various programs’ constituents will cry foul. And in some cases, they will be right. But when they start talking about cuts being mean or “draconian” – we’ll bet doughnuts to dollars they’ll trot out that word very quickly – just ask yourself: How kind and compassionate is it to leave our children and grandchildren with a $20 trillion (and growing) tab for our overspending and our inability to set priorities and live within our means?

Truth is, the cutting doesn’t go nearly far enough: With so-called entitlement spending – such things as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – making up two-thirds of the federal budget, it’s unwise not to try to slow that runaway train. Unfortunately, candidate Trump promised it would be hands off on entitlements.

We feel that’s a huge mistake. Small changes in entitlements now could save trillions later – and maybe even save the programs themselves, which are in a fiscal death spiral.

Folks, priorities need to be set even in fat times. Until we balance the budget and start running a surplus, setting spending priorities will be painful.

The only question is, do we want to avoid all pain and just bequeath it to our young?

 

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