“Reading through the Trump budget,” tweeted The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof, “I feel as the Romans must have felt in 456 AD as the barbarians conquered and ushered in the dark ages.” Vox claimed that the budget plan is a proposal to “dramatically remake the federal government.” If only.
In perspective, all of this melodrama is over probably less than 1 percent of the national budget. As Nick Gillespie points out at Reason, federal spending is at historic high in both absolute terms and as a percentage of gross domestic product, with outlays at more than 20 percent, higher than the post-war average. Until there is entitlement reform — which, right now, seem like never — the only place to trim is within the confines of discretionary spending.
While the White House’s budget blueprint, unsurprisingly titled “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” contains some sound fiscal conservative cuts, it’s not a free-market budget because Donald Trump is not a fiscal conservative. The blueprint, in fact, is less of a budgeting document than a plan to begin rolling back some of the worst excesses of the bureaucratic state. Maybe that’s just as good right now.
Under Trump’s budget, the Education Department would see a 14 percent cut, which, for those who believe the federal government should have no role in local education, is around 86 percent too little. The good news is that $1.4 billion will be re-allocated to encourage local charter schools, private schools, and school-choice initiatives that will help minority and low-income children escape from failing schools. This might be the best “investment” the DOE has ever made for poor kids.