For as long as I can remember Republicans have promised to cut the size of government. So far none of them have. There’s no single measure of government growth but I found an excellent article from Forbes magazine. They measured the number of government employees (GE) as a percentage of US population (P), or GE/P and used this as a tool and measured each President since 1980.
The percentage has increased over every President:
- Ronald Reagan: 7.2%
- George H.W. Bush: 7.3%
- Bill Clinton: 7.3%
- George W. Bush: 7.4%
- Barach Obama: 6.9%
President Trump ran on the same GOP platform, but he appears to be serious. Last week he released his proposed budget for 2018 and it’s garnered a great deal of attention.
All budgets give us survivors, winners and losers. Medicare, Social Security, and interest on the national debt are survivors as Mr. Trump has chosen to not to meddle with them (even though many members of his party demand Medicare and Social Security reform). His list of winners is pretty small: The Department of Veterans’ Affairs will see an increase of 6%. Likewise, the Department of Homeland Security gains 7%, and the Department of Defense’s budget will increase 9%.
So how about the losers? I don’t have the bandwidth for all the losers, but let me highlight a few. The Environmental Protection Agency will be cut 31%. The Department of State will lose 29%.
There is obviously more, but here’s my point: under this budget our water and air will get dirtier with the cuts at EPA. Cutting the State Department’s budget while increasing Defense focuses our our nation away from diplomacy and toward conflict.
When I was a Catholic priest I spent a fair amount of time working with engaged couples in the last few months before their marriage. I told them that if they gave me their bank statements I could tell them what they valued. None of them took me up on the offer but I was serious. How we allocate our limited resources shows what we think important. A couple who begins their marriage in a modest home and fully funds their retirement (even though it’s 40 years in the future) values responsibility and patience. In the same way the couple that purchases fancy cars and the latest high tech electronics want what they want with little regard to the possibility that they will need this money for an unexpected future expense.
In the same way Mr. Trump makes it clear that he values fear over hope, immediate profit over long term investment. He cares a great deal about his time in office and cares nothing for the world he will leave to his grandchildren.
You have to wonder who he will leave Mar a Lago to when it’s under water.