What to look for in President Trump’s First Budget

 

As a new administration prepares to take office in January, one of the key indicators of President Trump’s approach to government will be his first budget. This is especially true since the Republican controlled Congress is likely to take a Republican President’s budget seriously.

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One of our nation’s chief fiscal watchdogs, the Concord Coalition, has summarized the most important things to look for:

  • What is the overall fiscal target? President Obama’s recent budgets have aimed at stabilizing the debt as a share of the economy. House Republicans have aimed for a more ambitious goal of balancing the budget within ten years, gradually reducing the debt as a share of the economy. What path will Mr. Trump recommend?
  • What specific tax cuts will be proposed and what are the likely revenue effects? During the campaign Mr. Trump proposed tax cuts amounting to $5.9 trillion in revenue loss over ten years. Even with dynamic scoring, taking the stimulatory effects of his tax cuts into effect, the revenue loss is still $3.9 trillion over ten years. Such huge revenue losses will make our debt much worse than it is already and won’t be approved by Congress.
  • What will the budget recommend for the federal debt limit? Currently the debt limit is suspended until March 16, 2017 when it will return at whatever level it is on that date. Congress will then have several months to reset it. Whatever the President recommends will send a strong signal, positive or negative, to the financial markets.
  • What economic growth rates will the budget assume?   GDP growth has averaged 2.6% for the past 30 years. Any predicted long term growth rate higher than this will lack credibility without strong justification.

Conclusion. Mr. Trump has the opportunity to institute the change in course which so many Americans would like to see. His first budget will set the tone and provide an important clue as to whether or not he is serious about doing this.

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