Commentary

Trump's Making America Great Again, but He Has To Get Serious About Cutting Spending

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Conservatism has long been associated with fiscal discipline, but that reputation may be waning fast. Let’s face it: The last Republican presidency spent money like there was no tomorrow, and the Trump administration is headed down the same path.

In past years, Donald Trump criticized figures on both the left and the right for failing to reel in America’s spending problem. Now that he’s in the Oval Office, however, the billionaire seems far less concerned with this issue, raising concerns from within his own party.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed a budget deal that once again sets federal spending at sky-high levels.

“The legislation would ramp up defense spending to $738 billion and $740 billion over the next two fiscal years, respectively, compared with the current level of $716 billion,” The Hill reported.

“Nondefense spending would rise to $632 billion and $634.5 billion during the same period, an increase from this year’s $605 billion,” the report said.

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That budget is now sitting in the Senate for approval and is widely expected to pass in the Republican-controlled chamber. It also has the support of the president — and that’s something that should alarm fiscal conservatives.

“Obviously we need to pass the bipartisan funding agreement that President Trump’s negotiating team worked out with Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi. … The president is strongly in support of it,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday, according to The Hill.

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“The Senate needs to pass it and put it on the president’s desk next week,” the Kentucky senator added.

Trump himself used Twitter (of course) to voice his support for that budget deal, spinning it as a positive plan from a military perspective.

“House Republicans should support the TWO YEAR BUDGET AGREEMENT which greatly helps our Military and our Vets. I am totally with you!” the president tweeted Wednesday before the budget passed in the House.

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But Trump was singing a very different tune before he was elected president. Three years before the historic 2016 campaign, he blasted Republicans for fiscal irresponsibility.

“I cannot believe the Republicans are extended the debt ceiling — I am a Republican and I am embarrassed!” he tweeted in 2013.

Trump attacked President Barack Obama for high spending during his presidency. “TIME TO CUT, CAP AND BALANCE,” Trump wrote in 2011. “The Debt Limit cannot be raised until Obama spending is contained.”

But spending sure doesn’t look very contained with Trump at the helm. Despite his pledge to eliminate federal debt within eight years, he’s embraced massive spending as president.

“On his watch, [debt] has exploded to more than $22 trillion,” Business Insider noted Wednesday.

“The country was already headed for a $1 trillion deficit this year,” the financial outlet reported. “Yet, the president has made clear his support for the federal budget deal reached Monday, which would increase spending by billions against a backdrop of lower tax receipts.”

Some Republican senators, including Utah’s Mitt Romney, who ran and lost as a fiscal conservative against Obama in 2012, have opposed the budget package as bloated and irresponsible. Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri called the deal “another example of why Congress is broken.”

Frustratingly, he’s not wrong. While there’s no denying the strong points of Trump’s presidency — the strong economy, the slow but steady progress on the border crisis — federal spending might prove to be his Achilles heel.

Conservatives can cheer for what the president is doing right while holding his feet to the fire when he veers off course.

Increasingly, there isn’t much of a difference between the left and the right when it comes to spending.

Trump needs to change that before his legacy becomes one of massive missed opportunities.

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Benjamin Arie is an independent journalist and writer. He has personally covered everything ranging from local crime to the U.S. president as a reporter in Michigan before focusing on national politics. Ben frequently travels to Latin America and has spent years living in Mexico.




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