Fact Check: Is Trump's Budget Proposal Really His Re-Election Opening Salvo?

Is Trump's Budget Proposal Really His Re-Election Opening Salvo?

President Trump submitted his 2020 budget proposals to Congress recently, and it’s caused quite a stir. Despite his ambitions to reduce both taxation and the unsustainably bloated federal deficit, the president is looking for an eye-watering $4.75 trillion in spending for next year. This is a huge amount — the largest budget proposal ever made. However, it’s been suggested that Trump isn’t just asking for funding here; he could also be setting out his stall for next year’s election campaign.

Highlights

  • Under our system of government, it’s the president and his team who write budget proposals and submit them to Congress — but it’s Congress who pretty much controls how much actually gets spent.
  • While this can be frustrating for a president like this one, who actually wants to get things done, it can also be a useful way to signal his priorities to the American people — and the 2020 proposal does that in a big way.
  • One of the headline items is a 5% increase in military spending. This is actually more than the Pentagon had asked for, although it’s not likely the generals will send the extra billions back with a note saying they don’t really need it. Our military suffered years of neglect under Obama. Some key programs, like finding a replacement for the Army’s aging M1-series tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, are way behind schedule. Extra funding could give them a vital kickstart.
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  • There’s also a request for $8.6 billion to build the wall. Will Congress approve this? Not a chance — but Trump has already managed to fund the wall through his national emergency anyway. This request is likely a signal that he’s determined to keep his promises even if Democrats keep trying to obstruct him.
  • Maybe the most controversial aspect of the proposal is a package of planned cuts to Medicare and other entitlement programs. In total, these come to $1.9 trillion, with the largest chunk to come from a planned $818 billion saving on Medicare over the next ten years.
  • Trump’s team is already pointing out that the Medicare savings will be achieved by forcing down drug prices and making healthcare providers work more efficiently. They won’t actually result in anyone getting less coverage.
  • That hasn’t stopped Democrats criticizing them, of course — including Joe Biden, who was Obama’s VP when the last president tried to push through almost identical savings to Medicare.
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  • Whether Trump thinks this budget has a chance of being approved or not, it’s certainly pressing all the right buttons for his re-election campaign. It shows Americans that he’s still strong on defense, still determined to protect our borders and still keen to give taxpayers better value for their money.