I look on it as Trump’s opening bid in a series of negotiations.
Say hello to the wall, a bigger military, and more robust immigration enforcement. Say goodbye to subsidies for public broadcasting, the arts, and a lot of what the EPA does now. The White House has released its so-called “skinny budget,” and it has winners and losers…
His post goes on to list and describe them, and adds this overview:
Pushing responsibility to states for all these purposes has been Republican doctrine for decades. Many of these programs started as part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society plan, but have produced not much more than stasis in these areas, in part (arguably, anyway) from a lack of accountability. Rather than have states and local authorities keep the resources and deal with problems that they know best, the federal government took over those tasks while taking the resources away, and then tried to apply one-size-fits-all approaches to them.
Republicans face a couple of problems in attempting to implement this paradigm shift now. First, states won’t necessarily get their resources back in the exchange, as the federal government will still need to fund its course of deficit spending, especially with entitlement reform on the back shelf. That leaves the vulnerable without much hope of a safety net. Second, it’s tougher politically to stop a federal program on which people depend than it is to not start it in the first place — a dynamic that will apply to entitlement reform too. Finally, while Republicans have talked plenty about deregulation and federalism, they haven’t won too many converts; it took a populist uprising rather than a conservative-federalist uprising to win the White House this time. The irony is that Trump’s budget takes the GOP much farther down that latter road than they’ve dared going themselves since Reagan.
…[T]he budget fight will show whether Republicans decide to fight for their federalist vision…
Morrissey concludes that Republicans will balk somewhat. I agree.
I want to add that cutting money to a department doesn’t inevitably mean gutting it. It can mean streamlining and focusing it. But government isn’t very good at that. The story of government in the last century has been mostly an inexorable increase in what the feds do and how much money they say they need to do it.
Putting aside all the vagaries and problems inherent in Donald Trump’s being the president who happens to be delivering this message right now, would the message itself ever fly? Are Congress and the federal government capable of backing it? Is the American public capable of accepting it? Or does the behemoth inevitably grow?