Gotta start some­where

Or does gov­ern­ment only grow?

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

WITH friends like these . . . . Some Amer­i­cans were pleas­antly sur­prised when a pres­i­dent, any pres­i­dent, showed a will­ing­ness to slow the growth of gov­ern­ment, per­haps even—gasp!—cut fed­eral spend­ing. That’s what the still­new pres­i­dent sug­gested in his bud­get plan re­cently re­leased.

Of course, as with any pres­i­den­tial bud­get, it was de­clared dead on ar­rival when Congress took its first look. But when the plan was first re­leased, it was mostly the Demo­cratic Party in vo­cal op­po­si­tion. Now, Pres­i­dent Trump has his own party to steer around, too.

So far, two House com­mit­tees in Wash­ing­ton have said no to certain cuts. Unan­i­mously. In some­what of an un­der­state­ment, the AP said the votes showed “the depth of op­po­si­tion to Trump’s bud­get plan to make wide­spread cuts at most do­mes­tic agen­cies.” Ya think?

No pres­i­dent ever gets all he wants in his bud­get, mainly be­cause it’s not his bud­get, but We the Peo­ple’s, with a con­sti­tu­tional as­sist from Congress. But the na­tion has got to start some­where. Ev­ery day this coun­try ticks closer to a $20 tril­lion debt. That is, if we didn’t go past the magic num­ber last night.

The pres­i­dent, for one ex­am­ple, has pro­posed a 10 per­cent cut in do­mes­tic pro­grams and for­eign aid. In­stead, those House mem­bers in his own party say they’d rather see cuts closer to 1 per­cent.

Democrats, for their part, love the fric­tion. As one Demo­cratic rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Maine put it, Repub­li­cans should be praised for “ba­si­cally ig­nor­ing most of the cuts in the pres­i­dent’s bud­get.”

That’s one way to look at it. An­other way to look at it: It’s dis­ap­point­ing to see Pres­i­dent Trump’s bold plan for re­duc­ing the size of the Wash­ing­ton, D.C., bu­reau­cracy get so lit­tle sup­port among House Repub­li­cans. If Repub­li­cans can’t do any­thing about the size of gov­ern­ment while hold­ing both houses of Congress and the pres­i­dency, it looks as though there is lit­tle hope of gov­ern­ment do­ing any­thing but grow­ing, grow­ing and grow­ing some more.

Cer­tainly, few peo­ple re­ally thought the pres­i­dent could cut food stamps or the Corps of En­gi­neers as much as he had planned. But if the Congress is go­ing to re­ject ev­ery cut, or limit any cuts to 1 per­cent or less, the whole ex­er­cise looks more like spin­ning wheels: lots of noise, but go­ing nowhere.

And one day, there’ll come a time to pay.

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