The Politics of the 2018 Federal Budget Plan: What’s Left

J.J. Citron, Maroon-News Staff

The True Beneficiaries of This Budget

Despite the fact that Republicans control the House of Representatives, Senate and Executive Branch, the party has yet to achieve legislative victory in the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency. Because of this, Republicans exerted tremendous pressure on lawmakers to pass a tax bill. On Thursday, October 19, the 2018 fiscal budget was passed 51 to 49; according to The New York Times, this “could keep Republicans on track to approve a tax package late this year or early in 2018.” Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky was the only Republican to vote against the legislation. He emphasized that the spending was excessive. Republican Senator of South Carolina and a member of the Budget Committee Lindsey Graham stated that if the budget failed, then “that would be the end of us as a party … because if you’re a Republican and you don’t want to simplify the tax code and cut taxes, what good are you to anybody?”

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a ranking member of the Budget Committee, condemned the budget, calling it “extremely cruel.” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York said that “this nasty and backwards budget green-lights cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in order to give a tax break to big corporations and the wealthiest Americans.”

Let’s first break down the budget. The plan includes a $5.1 trillion reduction in federal spending, $1 billion in deficit reduction from energy and natural resources budget, $1.5 trillion added to the deficit for comprehensive tax reform, and $632 billion reduction of non-defense discretionary spending. 

The legislation calls for trillions of dollars in spending cuts over the next decade. Specifically, the plan would cut one trillion dollars from

Medicaid and roughly 470 billion dollars from Medicare over a decade. According to ABC News, the resolution is a nonbinding budget framework, meaning it would allow Republicans to pass a tax plan under the rules of reconciliation; the GOP tax bill could pass without a single Democratic vote, thereby avoiding a Democrat-led filibuster. 

The measure is estimated to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, and contains about $4 trillion in spending cuts. The White House stated, “This resolution creates a pathway to unleash the potential of the American economy through tax reform and tax cuts, simplifying the over-complicated tax code, and providing financial relief for families across the country, and making American businesses globally competitive.” In reality, the only recipients of such “financial relief” are not members of the middle class. Trump’s track record in supporting the middle class is less than clean. According to ABC News, Trump’s tax plan would “remove the personal exemption and possibly much of the deduction for state and local taxes – changes that could possibly increase taxes for many families.” A preliminary analysis by the Tax Policy Center estimated that the Trump’s tax proposal would cut business taxes by $2.65 trillion over a decade while increasing the tax burden on families and individuals by $471 billion.  The plan promises to deliver up to $6 trillion in tax cuts to businesses. This leads me to my final question: who is Trump really trying to help? 

Contact J.J. Citron at [email protected].