America Needs to Exercise Budgetary Restraint Before It’s Too Late

    Brett D. Schaefer

    Economics, North America

    President Trump's Budget for the U.S. Government for the Fiscal Year 2019 is released in Washington

    But the notion that Congress should reject any cuts is simply not realistic.

    President Donald Trump released his fiscal year 2019 budget this week—and foreign-policy experts and prominent voices on Capitol Hill were quick to criticize the depth of his budget cuts.

    For the most part, Trump’s request for the Department of State and other international programs, including both base discretionary funding and supplementary funding through overseas contingency operations (OCO), mirrored the request made in the fiscal year 2018 budget. The 2018 budget requested $ 40.2 billion for the Department of State. This was approximately 32 percent below the $ 59.1 enacted for fiscal year 2017. In comparison, the 2019 budget requested $ 40.3 billion, only slightly higher than the 2018 budget.

    The reaction of Trump’s critics, however, was muted compared to last year when they asserted that the budget would destroy soft power, end foreign aid as we know it and endanger U.S. diplomats.

    During the Trump presidency, reactions to administration proposals and policies has tended toward hyperbole, so the shift is a welcome embrace of perspective. After all, any president’s budget request is merely the first part of the budget process. In the end, Congress must authorize and appropriate funding and will assert its views accordingly.

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