Mnuchin: Trump's first budget won't touch entitlements

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox News on Sunday that President Trump's first budget, due out March 13, will not cut Social Security or Medicare.  Instead, the budget will feature tax cuts and regulatory reform to stimulate the economy.

The Hill:

The Trump administration policy on entitlements is unclear. Trump himself promised not to cut Social Security or Medicare benefits during his campaign, and Mnuchin backed that pledge during his confirmation hearing.

Mnuchin did not specify during his confirmation hearing what the Trump administration would consider cutting, and Office of Budget and Management Director Mick Mulvaney insisted during his confirmation hearing that he’d push for Social Security and Medicare reforms.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-S.C.), a Trump ally and chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, also said Trump would consider reforms that could limit payments for future Social Security and Medicare recipients without touching current benefits.

Social Security and Medicare are the federal government's biggest expenditures, and the trust funds behind entitlement payments are projected to expire in less than two decades.

Trump and his aides have promised to pay down the nearly $20 trillion national debt with ambitious economic growth unlocked by tax and regulatory reform. They insist his platform could boost growth to 4-6 percent of gross domestic product per year, compared to the 1.6 percent Obama-administration average.

Even so, economists across the ideological spectrum doubt the U.S. could achieve those growth levels, given the country’s aging workforce and relative economic size.

Kicking the can down the road on entitlements may be politically popular, but it only delays the day of reckoning.  The longer entitlement reform is put off, the more difficult it will be to put those programs on sound fiscal footing.

But the real problem is that when you factor in defense spending, which the president wants to increase, there is less than 17% of the budget that can be cut – so-called discretionary spending.  That includes everything from air traffic control to spending on national parks to food and drug oversight.  With a half-trillion-dollar budget deficit staring the Trump administration in the face, there just isn't enough to cut in the budget that would come close to getting the deficit under control.

So the president is going to rely on tax and regulatory reform stimulating the economy to grow ourselves out of our budget crisis.  I suppose it depends on what kind of tax cuts the president is talking about and how far he's willing to go in cutting the regulatory state. 

We'll get a preview of that when the president addresses a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox News on Sunday that President Trump's first budget, due out March 13, will not cut Social Security or Medicare.  Instead, the budget will feature tax cuts and regulatory reform to stimulate the economy.

The Hill:

The Trump administration policy on entitlements is unclear. Trump himself promised not to cut Social Security or Medicare benefits during his campaign, and Mnuchin backed that pledge during his confirmation hearing.

Mnuchin did not specify during his confirmation hearing what the Trump administration would consider cutting, and Office of Budget and Management Director Mick Mulvaney insisted during his confirmation hearing that he’d push for Social Security and Medicare reforms.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-S.C.), a Trump ally and chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, also said Trump would consider reforms that could limit payments for future Social Security and Medicare recipients without touching current benefits.

Social Security and Medicare are the federal government's biggest expenditures, and the trust funds behind entitlement payments are projected to expire in less than two decades.

Trump and his aides have promised to pay down the nearly $20 trillion national debt with ambitious economic growth unlocked by tax and regulatory reform. They insist his platform could boost growth to 4-6 percent of gross domestic product per year, compared to the 1.6 percent Obama-administration average.

Even so, economists across the ideological spectrum doubt the U.S. could achieve those growth levels, given the country’s aging workforce and relative economic size.

Kicking the can down the road on entitlements may be politically popular, but it only delays the day of reckoning.  The longer entitlement reform is put off, the more difficult it will be to put those programs on sound fiscal footing.

But the real problem is that when you factor in defense spending, which the president wants to increase, there is less than 17% of the budget that can be cut – so-called discretionary spending.  That includes everything from air traffic control to spending on national parks to food and drug oversight.  With a half-trillion-dollar budget deficit staring the Trump administration in the face, there just isn't enough to cut in the budget that would come close to getting the deficit under control.

So the president is going to rely on tax and regulatory reform stimulating the economy to grow ourselves out of our budget crisis.  I suppose it depends on what kind of tax cuts the president is talking about and how far he's willing to go in cutting the regulatory state. 

We'll get a preview of that when the president addresses a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night.

RECENT VIDEOS