Budget Deal

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block.

There were a lot of doubters, including myself, but it looks like we will get a budget deal.  It will raise our national debt ceiling and set new spending limits for 2 years.  The new budget will authorize the spending of tens of billions of dollars of new money in the next 2 years.  Just a few months ago President Trump said he wanted to slash spending.    

We were warned two weeks ago by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that our government would run out of money by September.  With the House and Senate both scheduled to be out of town in August, that has put enormous pressure on Congress and President Trump to negotiate a deal quickly.  We don’t want to shut the government down and default on our debt.

Instead of writing a balanced budget, we will continue to run annual deficits beyond one trillion dollars per year.  A column in the Washington Times had this to say – “As prudent observers often repeat; our nation doesn’t have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem.  Individuals addicted to dollars rob banks.  But nations hooked on spending other people’s money don’t have to: they own the bank.”  True.  With a booming economy and tax reform legislation our Treasury is expected to bring in $110 billion more this year than last year, but that won’t come close to keeping up with the spending.  Run away national debt will cost our children and grandchildren.   

 The new budget is generous.  Liberals will get more money for domestic programs.  Conservatives will get more for defense.  It is all but impossible to stop this spending train.  Politicians that want to get reelected love to give out goodies to their voters.  And they certainly would never propose to take anything away.

One risk that we don’t hear much talk about is the costly danger of rising debt and rising interest rates.  Interest payments along with entitlement spending are projected to account for nearly three quarters of federal spending growth as we look to the future.  It’s hard for me to imagine our members of Congress having the courage to take the steps necessary to balance the budget.  That would cost them votes and they want to get reelected.

Here is where we are today – leadership in both the House and Senate and President Trump have agreed on a budget deal.  Now Congress has to vote to approve it.  Liberal Democrats are not going to like it.  Republican deficit hawks won’t either.  I think it will pass and President Trump will sign the bill.

John Block was Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1981-1985, where he played a key role in the development of the 1985 Farm Bill.  If you would like to review his radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to www.johnblockreports.com. 


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