President Trump dug deeply into the federal budget this week and proposed abolishing or cutting a lot of wasteful, needless agencies and programs.

“We are going to do more with less, and make the government lean and accountable to the people,” Trump said, as he sent his budget-cutting plan to the Republican-run Congress.

Lawmakers have their work cut out for them, but don’t expect them to eliminate many, if any, major programs as Trump has proposed.

That is unfortunate because so many programs are not only waste-ridden, but hopelessly ineffective as well.

President Ronald Reagan made a bold attempt to cut government down, but without much success.

The monstrous federal budget is an incredibly complex document that has plunged our nation so deeply into debt.

Spending in this fiscal year is headed to an astounding $4 trillion. Revenues are estimated at $3.4 trillion, and the budget deficit is likely to be around $560 billion.

That means going into the bond market to make up the difference. The government’s debt is projected to climb to nearly $15 trillion by the end of this fiscal year. This is the irresponsible spending mess that President Obama left behind, as well as some of his predecessors.

The Heritage Foundation’s Romina Boccia said Trump’s proposed budget “marks a stark contrast from the reckless spending of the past administration.” The “proposed cuts to nondefense programs, together with executive actions to streamline federal agencies and cut waste, signal that this administration is serious about cutting the bloated Washington bureaucracy down to size.”

But the Cato Institute’s veteran budget analyst, Chris Edwards, said, “Many of Trump’s proposals will not be greeted warmly on Capitol Hill.”

That’s because “the $54 billion in nondefense cuts he put forth are matched by $54 billion in defense spending increases. So that focus on ‘lean’ does not extend to the Pentagon, and there is no overall spending reduction to help get rising deficits under control,” Edwards points out.

As for Trump’s domestic spending cuts, Edwards predicts that many “members of both parties (will) defend subsidy programs that aid their states.”

“Still, the broad sweep of Trump’s proposals gives him a strong starting position in budget negotiations. Since he dishes out the pain widely, his cuts will be perceived as being fair, at least by Republican voters.”

And Edwards further notes that “for fiscal conservatives, there is good news here.” For example, he points to Trump’s proposal to eliminate Community Development Block Grants and the Economic Development Administration, programs that pump billions of tax dollars to subsidize business deals and public works projects and, supposedly, create jobs.

They’re intended to help areas of high unemployment, but past investigations showed that the grants all too often went to wealthier communities. Moreover, follow-up studies found that, in many cases, unemployment was worse just a few years later.

Now the budget-balancing challenges are once again in Congress’ court. But lawmakers shouldn’t let the Pentagon off the hook, either. Close the top-brass dining rooms. Shut down outmoded, inefficient, century-old military bases that serve no strategic purpose, and renegotiate bloated contracts.

Federal spending is wildly out of control, and as Trump’s budget makes crystal clear, this time it’s no more Mr. Nice Guy.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist.

(24) comments

Carlos Ponce

Don't you just love it when Liberals say, "But that program only takes a few million dollars, why cut it? ONLY A FEW MILLION DOLLARS??? When compared to the 20 trillion dollar debt it doesn't seem much to the ELITE of this country. It does to ordinary Americans. Pennies saved add up to dollars. Save a million here and a million there and they'll add up to what the ELITIST call "real money".
Rule One: If there is no Constitutional basis for the spending, CUT IT!
Rule Two: If it is that important either tie it into a Constitutional provision or amend the Constitution. But no legislation from the bench.
Why do the ELITE want to pass on TRILLIONS of dollars of debt to our children, grandchildren, etc? GREED and POWER come to mind disguised as "for the common good".
The government has been described as a dilapidated sow with thousands of piglets trying to suckle what little there is. Don't be a "pig". Time for some unnecessary pork barrel funding to get off the government teat.

Steve Fouga

I agree that President Trump's proposed budget is a good starting point. I disagree with a few specifics, and I wish he had extended his cuts to DoD as well, but in general his instinct to cut rather than spend is on target.

Carlos Ponce

At least the DoD is a Constitutional requirement.

Steve Fouga

Yes, constitutionally mandated. IMO we should extract ourselves from the wars, ASAP. This would allow the services to cut operational costs. Spending on military capital programs -- ships, planes, tanks, facilities, etc., could continue and possibly even increase, and still save money. Obviously easier said than done, but I hope he'll try. During the campaign, wars were one of his most valid criticisms of prior administrations.

Carlos Ponce

" IMO we should extract ourselves from the wars, ASAP." Nice idea but the ramifications are troubling. Problem is we're in it. Speculation is that ISIS would be emboldened by US withdrawal from the region and use it as propaganda to spread terrorism and recruit - recruit even in this country.[sad]

George Croix

“Many of Trump’s proposals will not be greeted warmly on Capitol Hill.”
Reality check:
NONE of them, no matter what, will be on the D side.
And on the R side, the 'Freedom Caucus' stands ready and willing to the Myway Highway.....
Payback from both sides for the election of a non-insider......

The Pres. should give tax reform a decent try, as it's possible, if unlikely, that the 'Freedoms' heads may pop out of their rears, but there will be the inevitable need to use Harry Reed's gift, and if McConnell refuses that, then might as well just consider a Presidency to now be a 4 or 8 year exercise in temporary measures that will be reversed by the next guy due to executive orders not being legislated and passed and signed law.

So, if failing in round 2, just give us as much relief as possible for 3 1/2 years with that pen, and we'll worry about 2020 in 2020......when the banana will become the official fruit of America....


Jim Forsythe

The  Jesus rides on a rainbow horse and 4-year-olds under anesthesia get to meet him comes from   Heaven Is For Real is No. 1 both on Amazon and on The New York Times bestseller list  March 28, 2011
Most think "true elite is somebody else"
"But the truth is that in politics, we're all elitists of one sort or another. Not even the most ardent populists would be comfortable if they heard that, say, a nominee for Treasury secretary from their own party actually believed that Jesus rides on a rainbow horse and 4-year-olds under anesthesia get to meet him. No one would want the president selected according to which candidate was closest to the mean in intelligence and experience. Nevertheless, everyone denies they're in the elite and thinks the true elite is somebody else. The only question is which elite you think ought to be pulling the strings."

The Constitution's General Welfare Clause is subject almost entirely to Congress's own discretion per Helvering v. Davis.
"The Taxing and Spending Clause (which contains provisions known as the General Welfare Clause and the Uniformity Clause)
While authorizing Congress to levy taxes, this clause permits the levying of taxes for two purposes only: to pay the debts of the United States, and to provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States."
1936 in United States v. Butler. 
"[T]he [General Welfare] clause confers a power separate and distinct from those later enumerated, is not restricted in meaning by the grant of them, and Congress consequently has a substantive power to tax and to appropriate, limited only by the requirement that it shall be exercised to provide for the general welfare of the United States. … It results that the power of Congress to authorize expenditure of public moneys for public purposes is not limited by the direct grants of legislative power found in the Constitution. … But the adoption of the broader construction leaves the power to spend subject to limitations. … [T]he powers of taxation and appropriation extend only to matters of national, as distinguished from local, welfare.".

"spend money for the general welfare subject almost entirely to Congress's own discretion"
"Shortly after Butler, in Helvering v. Davis, the Supreme Court interpreted the clause even more expansively, disavowing almost entirely any role for judicial review of Congressional spending policies, thereby conferring upon Congress a plenary power to impose taxes and to spend money for the general welfare subject almost entirely to Congress's own discretion"

Steve Fouga

IMO President Trump should re-prioritze, and go for infrastructure next, rather than tax reform. Hardline conservatives might oppose, but Dems are much more likely to break ranks and support projects that benefit their constituents.

This would have the dual effect of getting something important done while giving members of congress a chance to relearn the art of working together.

Jim Forsythe

Steve , you are not trying to use a bad word ,compromise.
This morning on the talk shows , a GOP Senator and a Democrat Senator were acting like they would be receptive to working together. It could be the start of working together. They talked that they can no longer let  the far right and far left dictate what happens .

Carlos Ponce

Speaking of infrastructure what about selling naming rights to freeways, etc to pay for construction, upkeep? Already publicly owned stadiums and arenas have naming rights up for bidding. NRG stadium owned by Harris County cost $352 million, naming rights sold for $300 million.
Would people really object to a Microsoft-Hoover Dam? I would object to a Soros - Big Bend National Park but in the long run c'est la vie.[innocent]

Steve Fouga

Good idea, Carlos. Tillman Fertitta is the only big boy without a Galveston street named after him. If he's willing to finance widening of the freeway from Dickinson to G-Town, I think we should call that portion the Fertitta Expressway.

Jim Forsythe

Do you really want to go to,  Mount Rushmore brought to you by Trojan™ condoms?
"Home Depot’s Yellowstone National Park. Merrill Lynch’s Yosemite National Park. Exxon Mobil’s Grand Canyon National Park. You’re probably shuddering at the thought of these national treasures being linked to corporate sponsors, but thanks to new federal rule changes, this possibility is closer than you think
The government is hoping to avoid going too far by maintaining a ban on out-and-out advertisements or naming park roads after companies. What is allowed, though, seems not much better. Company names and logos can be conspicuously attached to:"
"Visitor centers, Benches ,Lockers Bricks Educational guides ,Park buses and trams ,Youth programs"
Basically, there are all sorts of branding opportunities now available to corporations. Visitors trying to get away from the logos and commercialization that are core to city life may be disappointed at how much companies are permitted to encroach on these formerly sacred spaces.
 To conserve the scenery , does not mean to sell off to the highest bidder the natural beauty of our assets.
On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act creating the National Park Service, a new federal bureau in the Department of the Interior responsible for protecting the 35 national parks and monuments then managed by the department and those yet to be established. This "Organic Act" states that "the Service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments and reservations…by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purpose of the said parks, monuments and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

Prices are never what's first reported. NRG stadium is a bargain compared to the Raiders new stadium in Vegas. Unless  the Raiders sell a lot of Personal Seat Licenses.
NRG stadium. 
Chronicle reports that the stadium's price tag will increase from $367,000,000.00 to $449,000,000.00 to cover the cost of extra restrooms, more parking, landscaping, and additional concession .
Now, the Texans'  will  switch to an artificial surface before their next home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 27, 2015 (will not say, but estimated over 3 million).  Then add, NRG Stadium requires $50 million in  upgrades for Super Bowl LI   2016 . This brings it to over  $500,000,000.  
Lack of selling Personal Seat Licenses at NRG, has made it one of the most expensive stadiums. Only two at this time are more costly
NRG Stadium  $500,000,000.   * $77 million in Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs)
New Cowboys Stadium 2009 $1,194,000,000 * $500 million in Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs)
New Meadowlands Stadium 2009   $1,600,000,000.  $800 million in Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs) 

The Raiders relocation resolution pegs the cost of the Vegas stadium at just under $1.7 bil. that's $200 mil less than widely reported

Carlos Ponce

Isn't the USC team known as "The Trojans"?[wink]
I don't like the idea of going to a ballpark known as NRG, Reliant, Minute Maid, Toyota etc since they are publicly owned- but that's today's reality. I'm certain there would be a commission to approve or disapprove of naming rights so you won't see The White House turned into The Trump House. [wink][wink][wink][wink]

George Croix

Before we spend another dime on 'shovel ready infrastructure projects' we need to find out where the last 800 BILLION PLUS ended up, lest new monies end up there again, and our infra remains unstructured.....
Not doing so would be pretty much the same as betting on the instant replay to turn out different....
Besides, we might need to build a couple new jails at the end of the money trail...that would be the karma part of it....

George Croix

Jim and Mr. Fouga, that 'compromise' stuff sounds great and I am all for it.
Ya'll care to name something of any consequence you figure that not just two talking heads on a TV show say they'd do, but that actually WOULD get done due to 'compromise', considering the current Capital Hill reality?
An actual project or productive legislation that could get a majority in both houses of Congress to vote to send it to the Pres. for signing.....?

Good luck with that, beyond the level of it-was-a-nice-dream-then-I-woke-up.

Anyway, for entertainment, I'd LOVE to see an ACTUAL filibuster of Gorsuch...a REAL one, where the filibusterer has to stand and talk continuously...forever, or seemingly so.....none of this phony 'technical filibuster' crap that both sides employ.....and the OTHER side has to have somebody there full time to listen to it.....
The functional equivalent of beating them all with a stick to be sure we get the guilty one....

Jim Forsythe

George,Green Eggs and Ham for all!
"two talking heads on a TV show" is more than we have had in a long time. If they continue down the same path that we are on now, any  bill that requires 60 votes will not pass. With more people being Independent voters, maybe more of the old guard will be voted out
A lot people are looking for something different from DC, that DC may not be able to deliver .Most people want results now , and DC is not  made for right now. We mabe looking for a candidate that does not Exist.

Steve Fouga

George, off the top of my head I can't think of specific projects; I'm not well-enough informed of what needs doing. It would have to be an omnibus of sorts across several, maybe even all, states. Presumably it would include, as the president has said, bridges, roads, airports, etc.

Oh wait, I just thought of one! The Oroville Dam, in the great state of California... [beam]

George Croix

Mr. Fouga, I'd wager if I was prone to betting that you couldn't even get them to go have a DQ Dip Cone together, without arguing about the size and why the chocolate on top of the ice cream might be sending some 'hateful' message or other.....
But, you two guys being several orders of magnitude sharper than me and couldn't come up with even ONE possibility...well, I'm going to have several cold Diet Cokes and mull that over....
And a York Peppermint Patty kicker....

Steve Fouga

So you don't count the Oroville Dam?... [unsure]

George Croix

Jim, that's like being glad that you'll drown a little less slowly, but you're still gonna drown.....

That evil little weasel Harry reed gave us a way around the 60 votes, and I can practically guarantee it is going to be used...repeatedly if need be.....unless McConnell wants a tour his home state on a rail and covered with pitch and feathers.....
In politics, if you turn the other cheek, you get them both punched....

I personally want a VIABLE, non-insanely off the left edge wacko OR extreme right, THIRD Party that shows it CAN have a chance to win in the national general election AFTER the primary season...waste of time to vote anything other than D or R unless they can put up REAL impressive numbers BEFORE the final run....
I'd personally not care too much if EVERY Senator and Representative was tossed out, and, like an old long gone friend used to say, they replaced all 535 of them by having a 5 year old girl blindfolded and repeatedly pointing her finger at a national phone directory...hard to imagine it could be any less functional....

My hopeful side says more people want results, but my normal cynical side says they are countered and overwhelmed by who people just want stuff for themselves.....

Jim Forsythe

Will they overrule the  Byrd Rule ? If not, then 60 votes will be required for the following 6 cases.

The Byrd Rule defines a provision to be "extraneous"—and therefore ineligible for reconciliation—in six cases:
if it does not produce a change in outlays or revenues;
if it produces an outlay increase or revenue decrease when the instructed committee is not in compliance with its instructions;
if it is outside the jurisdiction of the committee that submitted the title or provision for inclusion in the reconciliation measure;
if it produces a change in outlays or revenues which is merely incidental to the non-budgetary components of the provision;
if it would increase the deficit for a fiscal year beyond those covered by the reconciliation measure; or
if it recommends changes in Social Security.
Any senator may raise a procedural objection to a provision believed to be extraneous, which will then be ruled on by the Presiding Officer, customarily on the advice of the Senate Parliamentarian. A vote of 60 senators is required to overturn the ruling. The Presiding Officer need not necessarily follow the advice of the Parliamentarian, and the Parliamentarian can be replaced by the Senate Majority Leader.The Vice President as President of the Senate can overrule the parliamentarian, but this has not been done since 1975

George Croix

No federal money for sanctuary states.....

George Croix

Bird's dead...along with his 'rules'.....

Reed and his cheering section ignored a simple old saying..."don't start no...stuff...won't get no...stuff".

Jim Forsythe

Just as Mark Twain said "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
so is the death of The Byrd rule exaggerated."
The Byrd rule is alive and must be addressed.
The Byrd rule itself bars the Senate from slipping what's known as "extraneous matter" into a bill being presented as a budgetary proposal; in other words, anything that strays into the realm of policy and doesn't qualify as strictly budget-related stands to violate the rule
As it turns out, there's one area in particular where the ACHA seems vulnerable.
One of the items included in the proposed legislation that threatens to run afoul of the rule is a provision to allow insurance companies to charge patients a 30% penalty for failing to maintain coverage during the prior year. 
30% penalty kicks in the Byrd rule!
The AHCA contains a provision that would allow insurance companies to charge a patient 30% more than their baseline premium if they had not maintained coverage during the previous year.
Put another way, if a person went 63 consecutive days without health insurance, a company could charge them more for the next year. If a person's premium would have been $200 a month but they did not maintain coverage the year before, the company could charge them $260 a month.
Since the money from the penalty would go to the insurance companies, the rule does not affect tax receipts for the federal government like the ACA's current individual mandate, in which the penalty is paid to the IRS.

From Republican Rep. Trent Franks
"The House has an untenable task of trying to craft a bill that will fit through the matrix of the Byrd rule," Franks said. "It's essentially like trying to force a giraffe through a keyhole. If you get the job done, he looks a little differently on the other side."
National Review's Yuval Levin wrote that the Byrd rule would be a difficult threshold for the AHCA as it currently stands to cross.

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