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What to Watch for in Trump’s 2020 Budget

Mar 7, 2019

President Trump will release the main volume of his third budget this upcoming Monday, March 11, after its release was delayed due to the Trump shutdown earlier this year. Unfortunately, the third time will not be the charm. As the Administration has already previewed, we expect the President to suddenly sound alarms about the growing deficits his tax giveaways to the very wealthy and large corporations helped create, while once again asking hardworking Americans to pick up the tab through cuts to vital services and programs. 

Here’s what to watch for in Trump’s 2020 budget:

  • On March 11, we expect to receive the main volume of the President’s budget (2019 example here), which will include topline discretionary numbers, projected deficits, a discretionary overview by major agency, mandatory and receipt proposals, and more.
  • The following week, we expect to receive the remaining budget volumes, including the Major Savings and Reforms and Appendix.

And here’s what we expect to see within the volumes:

1. Devastating cuts to investments in our national and economic security. Without action by Congress this year, our country’s defense and non-defense investments will face large cuts that would leave us unable to meet the needs of the American people. But instead of proposing a responsible budget that raises the budget caps and allows us to invest in our national and economic security, OMB Acting Director Russell Vought indicates the Trump budget will slash non-defense discretionary spending even more. This would threaten our investments in education, public health, homeland security, infrastructure and other top priorities, leaving the country unable to meet its needs today or prepare for the future.

2. Continued attacks on health care and programs that provide American with a basic standard of living. Despite the American people speaking out loud and clear against the GOP’s health care agenda last November, we may once again see an attempt to gut Americans’ health security through a repeal and replace provision, in addition to further deep cuts to Medicaid and other health programs that provide millions with care. The budget will also likely continue the Administration’s attacks on Americans struggling to get by making severe cuts to nutrition assistance and other income security programs.  

3. Deficit-financed tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. Despite growing evidence that the Republican tax law was the wrong policy at the wrong time, the Trump budget will continue to promote its giveaways to the wealthy few that CBO confirms will add $1.9 trillion to our deficits, while doing little for working Americans or Main Street businesses.

4. Massive budget gimmicks and fantasy economic projections. Acting Director Vought has already admitted that the budget will contain a massive OCO gimmick to obscure the true cost of defense spending in order to shortchange investments  in other national priorities. But that’s likely just the start of the budget’s many deceptions, which will likely also include unrealistic growth assumptions based on the GOP tax law, whose economic boost is already proving to be short-lived.

5. Failure to Address Country’s Pressing Challenges. While we may see token investments in bipartisan priorities like health research and another attempt to fund an ineffective, wasteful wall,  the Trump budget will largely ignore some of the major challenges facing this country, such as climate change, student loan debt, income inequality, and our infrastructure deficit. 

6. Immediate Disapproval from Congress. While Trump’s 2020 budget proposal, like his previous versions, will showcase a frightening vision for the country, it will also once again fail to represent a serious attempt at budgeting or addressing the many economic and fiscal hurdles facing the country.  Bipartisan legislators have already dismissed the proposal’s OCO gimmick, and we expect its extreme cuts to once again be ignored as well. Instead, Congressional Democrats and Republicans must come together to pass a responsible budget that allows us to invest in our future and meet the needs of the American people.

The House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the President’s 2020 Budget with OMB Acting Director Russell Vought on Tuesday, March 12, at 10 a.m.