Like every politician, President Trump has made a lot of promises. And like nearly every politician, his math just doesn’t add up.
You don’t have to be an economist to figure this out. Trump has pledged to increase military spending — despite the fact that our un-audited and therefore unaccountable spending in that category already dwarfs the next several countries combined — while upping infrastructure spending and preserving entitlement spending plus doing who-knows-what to health care.
To pay for this, he has proposed some cuts to the State Department (remind me why a president who sold himself on his negotiating skills wants to cut down on diplomacy in an international relations climate where diplomacy is more necessary than ever?) and foreign aid, which too few Americans realize accounts for just 1 percent of the federal budget. These cuts cannot cover Trump’s planned military spending hike and tax cuts, let alone his $1 trillion infrastructure plan.
They certainly cannot close the annual federal deficit, currently averaging around $500 billion annually and expected to grow to $1.4 trillion per year by 2027, even accounting for increased tax revenues from economic growth.
As for the national debt, now crashing toward $20 trillion? Well, if Trump stays his present course, expect it to crash even harder. Our last two presidents both added to the debt at record levels, and Trump seems set to maintain that trend.
Writing over at National Review, Kevin Williamson has a gutting takedown of Trump’s fiscal irresponsibility:
This is going to be aggravated by Trump’s consistently repeated refusal to do anything about federal spending where the spending actually happens: in the entitlement programs. If you refuse to touch entitlement spending (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) and are intent on increasing military spending (which, arguendo, may actually need to be done) then you have put about 80 percent of the federal budget beyond the reach of any budget-cutting exercise. …
And much of this assumes that the interest rates on all that federal debt stay at levels that are by historical standards unusually low. A return to the historical average would mean a Pentagon-sized hole in federal finances, and there is no reason to believe that the average is the top limit. The CBO doesn’t think those rates are going to remain low: It already is projecting that interest payments will double (as a share of GDP) over the next decade.
Beyond this gross fiscal irresponsibility, what did Trump propose? A lot of federal commissions and blue-ribbon task forces writing a lot of reports. That and another expensive new entitlement: paid maternity/paternity leave.
Read the rest of Williamson’s analysis here. It’s worth your time.