Trump's $54 Billion Boondoggle: Boost Defense, Cut Entitlement

  • Calvin Wolf
  • Feb 28, 2017 10:56AM

President Donald Trump just fired the first salvo in the upcoming fiscal wars by proposing a drastic $54 billion increase in defense spending as part of the next federal budget, paid for by similar cuts in civilian agencies. The biggest losers under Trump’s proposed budget are foreign aid programs and the EPA, which faced his wrath from the early days of his presidential campaign. The biggest winners, aside from the military itself, are law enforcement agencies and programs for veterans. 

With the Trump administration also planning to cut taxes for the next fiscal year, it is unclear where the boosts to the military, law enforcement, and veteran spending will come from. A 10-percent cut to all non-security and non-veteran federal agencies is currently anticipated, terrifying the bureaucracy. Essentially, all federal agencies that do not involve gun-toting will have to tighten [their] belt, something that families across the country have had to learn to do.”

Having “belt-tightening” talk come from an obese billionaire is certainly insulting to all federal employees whose jobs are potentially on the chopping block because they do not wield firearms. It’s also likely that everyone’s belt-tightening (outside of the veterans and federal gun-toters) will increase in the coming years as Trump’s defense-friendly budget hurts the economy. Basically, Trump is shifting government dollars from being more productive to being less productive.

Why is that?  Defense spending creates the fewest jobs per government dollar. It is literally your worst fiscal policy option to boost the economy. Instead, we should spend the money on education or health care, as Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders would have done. Defense spending does not inject its dollars as widely or efficiently into the macro economy as do virtually all other federal spending options. One reason?  Defense contractors are notoriously wasteful.