Trump’s Budget Would Increase Deficit Over Next 2 Years; WH Says It Will Balance in 2034

By Terence P. Jeffrey | March 13, 2019 | 5:44pm EDT
Acting Director of White House Office of Management and Budget Russell Vought (Getty Images/Alex Wong)

( - The budget proposal that President Donald Trump sent to Congress this week started with an analysis warning that “excessive deficits continue to threaten the nation’s progress” and then presented numbers indicating the federal deficit would actually increase in fiscal 2020 and 2021 under the president's plan.

Table S-2 in the president’s budget proposal compares the federal government’s “baseline” budget numbers and the numbers that it estimates would occur if the president’s budget were approved.

The baseline estimates show the government running a $1.067 trillion deficit in fiscal 2020 compared to a $1.101 trillion estimated deficit under the president’s proposal. As Table S-2 itself notes, that means the deficit would increase by $34 billion in fiscal 2020 under the president’s proposal compared to the baseline.

Similarly, the baseline estimates show the government running a $1.049 trillion deficit in fiscal 2021, while under the president’s proposal the OMB’s estimate is that the deficit would be $1.068 trillion. That means the fiscal 2021 deficit would be $19 billion more under the president’s proposal.

Three years from now, in fiscal 2022, according to the estimates, President Trump’s budget proposal would begin to decrease the deficit compared to the baseline estimate. That year, according to Table S-2, the government would run a $1.102 deficit under the baseline, and a $1.049 trillion deficit under President Trumps’ proposal.

Thus, if Congress were to approve President Trump’s budget proposal, according to the numbers published in the president’s proposal, the deficit would increase $34 billion the first year, then $19 billion the second year, before finally declining $53 billion in the third year.

But in all three years, whether following the baseline or the president’s proposal, the annual deficit would exceed $1 trillion.

When discussing the budget proposal at a White House press briefing on Monday and at a House Budget Committee hearing on Tuesday, Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought indicated that the plan submitted by the administration envisions balancing the budget fifteen years from now—in 2034.

“We balance in 15 years,” Vought said at the White House on Monday.

White House Spokesperson Sarah Sanders specifically cited 2034 as the year a balanced budget would be achieved.

"Even with a strong economy, deficits are still a threat, and this budget demonstrates the president's vision to restrain Washington spending and reach a balanced budget by 2034," Sanders said.

Vought repeated this assessment in a statement delivered to the House Budget Committee on Tuesday.

“It is time for irresponsible spending to end,” he said. “The president’s budget does exactly that, decreasing our yearly deficits and achieving a balanced budget within 15 years, a goal many in this committee have championed.”

In President Trump’s Budget Message to Congress, which was attached to his budget proposal, the president warned that we need to protect “future generations” from deficit spending by the federal government.

“We must protect future generations from Washington’s habitual deficit spending,” President Trump said.

The budget numbers in the tables attached to the president’s budget proposals show tax and spending numbers running from fiscal 2018 to fiscal 2029. They do not show numbers running through 2034, when the administration says the president’s budget would reach balance.

Both the tax revenue and spending numbers under both the president’s proposed budget and the baseline increase in every year over the next ten years—with the spending numbers always exceeding the tax revenue numbers.

In the baseline, total federal tax revenues rise from $3.643 trillion in fiscal 2020 to $6.275 trillion in fiscal 2029. At the same time, total federal spending would rise from $4.709 trillion in fiscal 2020 to $7.202 trillion in fiscal 2029.

The baseline foresees a combined deficit of $10.100 trillion in the years from fiscal 2020 to fiscal 2029.

In the president’s proposal, total federal tax revenues rise from $3.645 trillion in fiscal 2020 to $6.292 trillion in fiscal 2029. At the same time, total federal spending would rise from $4.746 trillion in fiscal 2020 to $6.495 trillion in fiscal 2029.

The president’s proposal, according to OMB, would see a combined deficit of $7.259 trillion from fiscal 2020 to fiscal 2029.

The business and economic reporting of is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.

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