President Trump has made a budget proposal for the next fiscal year that multiple senators have described as dead on arrival, with some going so far as to call it “divorced from reality” and a “gut-punch to the American middle class”, according to The Hill. Congress, not the White House, comes up with the actual budget and the appropriations bills to fund it, which is why the proposal can indeed be called dead on arrival, but the vast difference between Trump’s priorities, as seen in his proposed budget, and the priorities of Congress sets up the possibility of another budget battle like the one that went from late last year into early this year, where Trump refused to sign appropriations bills unless he got the funding he wanted for his wall, leading to a partial government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history, and significant financial pain to hundreds of thousands of government workers who were without paychecks for the duration.
Trump’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2020, which begins this October 1, includes a request for $8.6 billion for funding for his border wall – that alone is a nonstarter, as Congress, even when both houses were held by Republican majorities, refused to give him such funding, so now that the House has a Democratic majority, Congress is even less likely to give him wall funding. Beyond that, Trump is proposing more increases to defense spending (to $750 billion), with 5% cuts to most domestic programs, setting up a scenario where middle and lower income people are dealt with cuts to services in order to offset decreased revenue from tax cuts that primarily benefited corporations and the wealthy, tipping the scales in the favor of corporations and the wealthy even further. According to The Hill:
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, on Monday slammed President Trump’s 2020 budget proposal, calling it “dead on arrival and divorced from reality.” Leahy added in a statement that the proposal “is not worth the paper it is printed on” and predicted it will be rejected by Congress. He called it based on a “gimmick” said it was “not a serious proposal.”…Other Senate Democrats on Monday also slammed the budget proposal. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who is also on the Appropriations Committee, joined Leahy in calling it “dead on arrival.” “Budgets reflect priorities, and President Trump’s priority is clearly catering to his base ahead of his re-election campaign. He includes massive cuts to programs Connecticut families rely on to pay for his tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, and a ridiculous amount of money for his border wall that no one wants,” Murphy added in a statement…”The Trump administration’s latest budget proposal is a gut-punch to the American middle class and a handout to the wealthiest few and powerful special interests that would worsen income inequality,” (Senate Minority Leader Chuck) Schumer (D-NY) said.
Another view of Trump’s budget proposal is that it is profoundly cynical. Trump knows that Congress will not approve billions in wall funding, or further tip the financial scales away from middle and low income people to the wealthy and corporations. From that vantage point, Trump’s proposed budget is just an attempt at a campaign tool, to show to his base that he is maintaining his list of priorities regardless of Congress. Of course without compromise, without realistic negotiation, Trump will not get any of his priorities at all. His job is to make those compromises, to make sure that we don’t have yet another government shutdown, but Trump appears to care only about pandering to his base, being a perennial candidate instead of being a president.