The House released a budget plan that hopes to cut spending and help lead the way for one of the biggest administration promises: Tax reform. The budget anticipates deficit reductions of over $200 billion over the decade and an eventual surplus by 2027. It would achieve this goal through spending cuts of $5.4 trillion over the next ten years and economic projections that boost growth. Importantly, it also would use the Reconciliation process to achieve deficit reduction — which is the first time in over a decade that this process, which requires only a majority vote, would be used specifically to cut the deficit.
However, the spending for the upcoming fiscal year seems more close to the status quo. The plan calls for over $700 billion in Pentagon spending, more than in both President Trump’s budget and the recently passed House NDAA (this includes funding for Overseas Contingency Operations). While Trump’s budget called for decreasing domestic programs to offset the increase in defense, the House bill cuts non-defense agencies by a mere $5 billion. This bill would spend billions more on defense than what is currently allowed under the Budget Control Act caps — requiring bipartisan agreement adjusting those caps.
Over the next ten years, non-defense discretionary spending would drop nearly 25% to $424 billion—compared to $554 billion the federal government will spend this year. Additionally, mandatory spending cuts would equal $203 billion over the next decade. In the bill, these mandatory cuts are forced through reconciliation instructions, the first time since 2006 that the budget reconciliation process has been used for actually reducing the deficit.
Looking for real spending reform is all too necessary, especially when Republicans have a united government and years of promises to do just that. But with an annual budget of about $4 trillion and a national debt closing in on $20 trillion, the cuts on the horizon are just a drop in the bucket of overall spending. Washington’s spend-and-borrow mentality has to change if we want to truly address the growing fiscal crisis. These cuts and reforms are a good start, but real reform requires far more serious steps — and with everything on the table.