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Monday, February 27, 2017

The Trump Budget -- Let's Speculate

If you read the mainstream media today, you will see a great many articles and opinion pieces about the forthcoming budget to be proposed in a few weeks by President Trump.  The topic sentence is that Trump wants to restore cuts to the defense budget while reducing spending on other items so as to keep total spending the same.  There are no details; that is because there is no budget yet.  Nevertheless, that has not stopped the onslaught of responses and criticism in the media and from the Democrats.  My favorite response so far has been from my own state's junior senator Chris Murphy who laments an increase in spending on military intervention rather than on reconciliation.  I often call Murphy a moron.  It is a well-deserved title for him, but he is proving it in a major way today.  To be clear, the increase in military spending is designed so that there will be no need for military intervention.  It's called peace through strength.  It means that the US military has such an overwhelming edge that no enemy would dare challenge us.  Indeed, it is the concept that has guided American defense strategy for most of the period since the end of World War II.  Further, nothing in the expected budget says anything about military intervention anywhere.  Nor does it say anything about downplaying diplomacy or reconciliation.  Murphy, as is often the case, just makes it all up and then complains.

Beyond the morons like Murphy, there are also many who seem to want to complain without seeing any details.  There are numerous federal programs that are nothing more than waste and corruption all the time.  For example, according to the Congressional Budget Office, there are about 107 programs run by the federal government to train or retrain workers.  That means that there are 107 directors, assistant directors, home offices and general office staff; there is one for each program.  There is no reason, however, to have overhead costs (in the hundreds of millions or even billions) for all of these programs.  They could easily be consolidated in three or four programs with different focuses.  The reorganized programs could train many more workers for a much lower cost just by jettisoning the unneeded bureaucrats now running the 107 existing programs.  No doubt, such a change would be opposed by Democrats like Chris Murphy as an attack on the poor.  (I did say he's a moron.)

The reality of the situation, however, is this:  we don't have the budget yet.  There's no need to analyze it in advance.  Let's see what it is first.  The Democrats can condemn it then, no matter what it says.

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