Donald Trump is not a small government guy. He certainly did not campaign as one to win the Republican presidential nomination and he was comfortable offering increased government spending as a solution for problem after problem. When Trump was asked what he would cut, he would say “waste, fraud, and abuse.”
But a new report out from the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard reveals that the Trump transition team has sent out notice to all cabinet agencies to expect deep cuts, including a 10 percent budget cut for all agencies and a 20 percent reduction in the federal workforce.
Insiders said that the spending reductions in some departments could go as high as 10 percent and staff cuts to 20 percent, numbers that would rock Washington if he follows through.
At least two so-called “landing teams” in Cabinet agencies have relayed the call for cuts as part of their marching orders to shrink the flab in government.
The cuts would target discretionary spending, not mandated programs such as Medicare or Social Security, the sources said.
The spending reductions are expected to be used to help pay for Trump’s plan to boost the Pentagon’s budget, tax cuts and some pet projects, potentially including the anti-immigration wall on the nation’s southern border.
It is always good to see a president set spending priorities. It is an acknowledgement that the country just can’t keep borrowing money indefinitely. That would be a welcome change from previous Republican administrations.
But there are some reasons why Trump could actually be looking to cut spending. For starters, we have learned that Trump is remarkably non-ideological but instead is more pragmatic. He could see a smaller, leaner government as more efficient.
We shouldn’t also forget that Trump is a very thin-skinned man. He isn’t known for forgiving his enemies. The federal civil service is a well-known bastion for Democratic Party politics and Trump will be looking to punish them.
We also should not forget who will be influencing the Trump administration. The most powerful man in the administration is likely to be Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President, Steve Bannon. Bannon is an economic nationalist who wants to spend massively on infrastructure. But Bannon will also know that a broke nation is not a powerful nation. Another man who likely have major influence in the Trump administration is Vice President Mike Pence, who was a well-known budget hawk in his time in Congress.
Finally, the head of the Office of Management and Budget will be staunch budget hawk Mick Mulvaney.
He did campaign as a small government Republican, but might conservatives and libertarians get that wish anyway?