Budget hawks have expressed displeasure with President-elect Trump’s recent spending proposals, as the incoming president has promised large spending hikes in infrastructure and defense. Fiscal conservatives are concerned that this will result in an increase to the deficit.
This concern is not baseless; NTUF had, prior to the election, estimated that Trump’s plan would increase net spending by $20 billion annually. Infrastructure spending was estimated to cost $110 billion per year (based on his campaign pledge to spend twice as much as Clinton had proposed on infrastructure), while Trump’s defense plan would increase spending by at least $16 billion annually. Other expensive proposals include Trump’s immigration policies, which would cost a total of $7.8 billion a year, and a paid maternity leave plan which would cost $1.9 billion.
There are positive aspects to Trump’s economic plan. His plan to simplify the tax code and reduce the regulatory burden are both pro-growth policies which would benefit the economy. The President-elect has also promised to work with Congress to reform the government by cutting down on “waste, fraud and abuse”. This approach is preferable to President Obama’s, who famously criticized John McCain in 2008 by saying McCain would take a hatchet to government programs while he would use a scalpel. Clearly, a scalpel has proved insufficient, given how the debt has doubled under Obama’s presidency.
There are also aspects of Trump’s plan for taxpayers to appreciate. NTU estimated the total cost of Trump’s six savings proposals at -$115.7 billion per year, with most of the savings coming from his -$94 billion proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Other notable cost saving measures include a proposal to reduce the size of the federal workforce, which would save $3.7 billion a year, and a “Penny Plan” that would reduce federal spending outside of defense and entitlements by one percent of the previous year’s total each year, saving $16 billion a year.
With the national debt steadily climbing towards $20 trillion, Trump and the Republican majority in Congress must adhere to the principles of fiscal discipline they campaigned on and work to set the budget on a sustainable path.