Trump looking to cut budget by 10%, slash 20% from federal workforce
Donald Trump plans to hit the ground running when he takes office on Friday, assigning "landing teams" to coordinate with federal agencies to cut some department budgets by as much as 10% while slashing 20% from the federal workforce.
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.
The teams also are looking at staffing cuts over four years through attrition, a hiring freeze and reorganization.
The plan is winning cheers in conservative, anti-tax and anti-spending corners in Washington that have long sought massive cuts in the bureaucracy.
Presidents rarely cut spending, choosing freezes instead. In the meantime, federal spending has reached historic levels. Trump has picked a budget hawk, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, to head the Office of Management and Budget, a clear sign that spending cuts are a top priority.
Still, Trump is likely to face a wall of opposition from Democrats and federal unions who consider much of the federal workforce on their side.
Many presidents have entered office with grand plans to cut the budget, only to see Congress fail to follow through. But perhaps more than any other recent president, Donald Trump enters the White House with a clear mandate to "drain the swamp." And a primal thrust of that effort will be to shrink the size of government.
Most presidents measure success in "cutting" the budget by how much they reduce the growth of spending from year to year. That's like congratulating a morbidly obese person for gaining "only" 10 pounds last month. What's needed is a plan to put government on a diet that will actually shrink the scope and responsibilities of the federal government – something that's never happened despite promises from Congress for three decades.
That takes a kind of political courage not seen in Washington before. Almost all politicians have their pet federal programs, and Washington is full of special interest groups for just about every agency there is. What begins as good intentions ends up coming acropper of hardball politics and political calculation.
Are there enough Republicans and a scattering of Democrats who can make it happen? Trump will need all his communication skills and the power of the bully pulpit to ram reforms of this kind through. Even if he's only partially successful, it will be a darn sight better than the out-of-control budgeting we've seen during the Obama years.