President Trump’s first budget is far from perfect. But it’s not a disaster. Others disagree.
One such malcontent is Linette Lopez. Writing for Business Insider, Ms. Lopez described Trump’s budget as one that “does not address millennials’ needs, and… doesn’t reflect millennials’ values.”
Lopez’s argument has three key claims. First, that Trump’s student loan reforms are unfair. Second, that Trump’s cuts to Medicaid and the National Institutes of Health are immoral and idiotic. Third, that Trump’s plan to crackdown on immigration will damage the economy. Lopez makes some disingenuous arguments.
On student loans, Trump wants to actually boost pell grant aid by $1.5 billion in 2018. That can hardly be called an anti-student agenda. But Lopez’s specific complaint is that the President wants to cut Department of Education funding and eliminate a program that releases government employees from student loan repayments. But as a fellow millennial, I would suggest these cuts are appropriate. For one, the Department of Education is a bloated and overly centralized bureaucracy. It pushes paper and throws out grants. Why not cut that department, and give some of the savings to states to use more efficiently. And why should taxpayers keep paying off government workers’ loans? Those workers have greater job security, and, at median employment levels, far greater earnings than private sector workers. They can and should pay their own way.
Next up, as I explained yesterday, current health care research appropriations are broken. Many research efforts cannot be justified in a serious cost-benefit analysis. And some cuts are both possible and desirable. Amusingly, Lopez tries to defend even the most ludicrous of these programs. She defends a climate change musical (yes, the National Science Foundation approved funding): “If it takes some singing and dancing to get people to believe that Miami shouldn’t be flooded,” Lopez says, “so be it.”
Give me a break.
Few millennials who are struggling to pay their bills or save up for a home are happy that their taxes are spent on musicals. And we need to stop pretending that money is the cure to every problem. We could, for example, empower medical research by further deregulating the drug approval process.
Still, I somewhat agree with Lopez on her final point that Trump’s budget lacks any creativity in immigration reform. From my perspective, we must secure the border. We must do so quickly. But building a border protection system isn’t the same as building the wall from Game of Thrones. Electronic fences and camera systems, as well as border agents, are better alternatives. Additionally, as America’s population continues aging, we are going to need legal immigrants in America. If not, we millennials will bear an unbearable taxation burden in paying for our parent’s generation’s care systems.
In the end, there is one fundamental fallacy to Lopez’s argument. And it’s a huge one. She assumes money is infinite. Lopez fails to recognize we are running massive deficits and fueling a ballooning debt. That debt drains money from investment, and will, if unchallenged, bankrupt the nation. As I’ve reported, “the CBO believes that net interest payments on the debt will rise from 1.4 percent of GDP today to 5.8 percent of GDP in 2046. To put that in perspective, had the U.S. spent an extra 4.4 percent GDP on debt service in 2015, it would have added $790 billion to the federal budget deficit.”
That is $790 billion to pay off the interest on the debt. It’s dead money. And Lopez, sadly, wants more of it. I like Trump’s budget for one reason: it recognizes cuts are necessary.