Congress has reached a consensus on spending — spend! — and the Trump administration is broadly inclined to agree: On the heels of a $1.5 trillion tax cut, congressional Republicans joined up with Democrats to drop the Boehner-era statutory spending constraints and jack up spending by some $300 billion over the next ten years. The Trump administration now proposes $200 billion in federal spending as part of what the president hopes will be a $1.5 trillion package.
The president has suggested that this $200 billion in spending will be offset by spending cuts elsewhere in the government, currently unspecified. …
… Perhaps Trump is a shrewder budgeter than he is being given credit for, in which case we have an alternative proposal: Identify those $200 billion in spending cuts, cut that spending, and then do . . . nothing. Pocket the savings.
They are going to be necessary.
While some of our friends in Washington worry about rinky-dink outlays such as foreign aid, the biggest chunks of federal spending remain on autopilot. Not that Congress shouldn’t mind the pennies: If there is spending that is undesirable or ineffective in foreign aid, or in any other category, it should be addressed. But most federal spending is concentrated in a small number of categories: national defense, which Republicans propose to spend more on, and not without good reason; interest on the debt, a non-optional outlay; and entitlements.