The Hill reports on something all Republicans should favor:
Donald Trump is ready to take an ax to government spending.
Staffers for the Trump transition team have been meeting with career staff at the White House ahead of Friday’s presidential inauguration to outline their plans for shrinking the federal bureaucracy, The Hill has learned.
The changes they propose are dramatic.
The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.
Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump’s team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years.
The proposed cuts hew closely to a blueprint published last year by the conservative Heritage Foundation, a think tank that has helped staff the Trump transition.
Similar proposals have in the past won support from Republicans in the House and Senate, who believe they have an opportunity to truly tackle spending after years of warnings about the rising debt.
Many of the specific cuts were included in the 2017 budget adopted by the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC), a caucus that represents a majority of House Republicans. The RSC budget plan would reduce federal spending by $8.6 trillion over the next decade.
Two members of Trump’s transition team are discussing the cuts at the White House budget office: Russ Vought, a former aide to Vice President-elect Mike Pence and the former executive director of the RSC, and John Gray, who previously worked for Pence, Sen. Rand Paul and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) when Ryan headed the House Budget Committee.
Vought and Gray, who both worked for the Heritage Foundation, are laying the groundwork for the so-called skinny budget — a 175- to 200-page document that will spell out the main priorities of the incoming Trump administration, along with summary tables. That document is expected to come out within 45 days of Trump taking office.
The administration’s full budget, including appropriations language, supplementary materials and long-term analysis, is expected to be released toward the end of Trump’s first 100 days in office, or by mid- to late April.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Trump’s choice to head the Office of Management and Budget, has not yet weighed in on the proposed spending reforms because he is still awaiting confirmation by the Senate.
Mulvaney voted for the RSC budget offered as a more conservative alternative to the main House Republican budget in 2015. The House did not vote on the RSC budget for fiscal year 2017. …
It’s not clear whether Trump’s first budget will include reforms to Social Security or Medicare, two major drivers of the federal deficit.
Trump vowed during the campaign not to cut Medicare and Social Security, a pledge that Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), his pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services, told lawmakers in testimony Wednesday has not changed.
Yet it could be very difficult to reduce U.S. debt without tackling the entitlement programs. Conservative House budgets have repeatedly included reforms to Medicare and Social Security, arguing they are necessary to save the programs.
The presidential budget is important in setting policy and laying out the administration’s agenda, though Congress would be responsible for approving a federal budget and appropriating funds.
It should be pointed out that there was little mention of budget cuts in the early days of the previous Republican administration, since George W. Bush campaigned as a “compassionate conservative.” And then eight months after he took office 9/11 happened, and federal spending ballooned.
Budget cuts, of course, depend on whether Trump can be trusted to keep his (most recent) word. That was one of the major objections of the NeverTrumpers, and it remains to be seen whether Trump will do what he claims he’ll do.