In yesterday’s puckish post, I suggested that the Trump administration’s “LOL, nothing matters” approach to budgeting was strangely more honest about not only the general incompetence of the administration, but also the historically farcical practice of presidential budgeting.
Today, I want to be marginally more serious about yesterday’s secondary point, which was that the reaction to the Trump budget suggests many conservatives are resigned to Trump’s non-conservative priorities, especially his rejection of entitlement reform.
It seems to me that conservatives could use Trump’s budget, and the overwrought reaction from progressives, as a teachable moment. Conservatives could point out that Trump’s LOL budget is a Dickensian Ghost of Budgets Yet to Come.
We live in a world where North Korea is test-firing missiles that can reach Japan (and the regime seemingly killed a suspected coup plotter with nerve gas in a foreign airport), Iran continues covertly developing a nuclear program, Russia continues to destabilize places from Syria to the Ukraine, and religious fanatics commit mass murder against teenage girls in Manchester. The need for spending on national security isn’t going anywhere.
And the Trump budget aligns with the Democratic dogma that rejects long-term reforms to entitlement programs (when the solutions could be much milder than what may have to be done in an actual fiscal crisis).
So when Democrats howl over Trump’s proposed cuts to domestic spending, conservatives could use the opportunity to note that this sort of budget is what Democrats want for our children and grandchildren.
Dems may respond that they would simply gut the military (and I suspect that’s a decent likelihood when we eventually have a fiscal crisis), but that wouldn’t be a good look for Dems now, and I suspect not in the near-future, either.
They may respond that they can raise taxes on “the rich,” But Dems decided to keep the Bush tax rates for families making up to $250,000 annually, because they know what the political fallout would have been for letting them expire.
Many Dems live in high cost-of-living areas like Sen. Chuck Schumer’s New York, where a two-union-employee couple might bump up dangerously close to that threshold. Also, households making $100,000 to $250,000 probably are used to a certain way of life and have disposable income to donate to challengers if the incumbents threaten that lifestyle.
Trump’s unserious budget could be held up as a mirror to show the long-standing unseriousness of the Left on budgetary issues. Most GOPers in Congress won’t do it, because they largely aren’t serious and are secretly glad Trump is allowing them to ignore entitlements. But the supposed standard-bearers for traditional conservatism could do it as a first step to re-entering the political discourse.
[And with that, have a happy Memorial Day weekend. Eat well, and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us and our freedoms.]
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