U.S. government proposes 2021 federal budget

Illustration by Sofia Eneqvist

The 2021 United States Federal Budget was released on Feb. 5 by President Donald J. Trump.

According to the Office of Management and Budget, the 2021 budget total is $4.839 trillion.

Dr. Chase Porter, assistant professor of political science at California Baptist University, said the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has offered a helpful overall assessment of the federal budget since its release.

“The budget proposal aims for both deficit and debt reduction but stakes its projected success in accomplishing these goals on overly optimistic economic assumptions relative to assumptions put forward by organizations such as the Congressional Budget Office,” Porter said.

The budget is broken into three categories: mandatory spending, discretionary spending and interest on the national debt.

The 2021 budget features an increase in military spending, which as a result allocates less money to other areas of discretionary spending.

“The Department of Defense budget request for FY 2021 is approximately $800 million more than the FY 2020 budget, or an increase of approximately 0.1 percent. The budget proposal cuts non-defense discretionary spending by approximately $1.95 trillion by 2030,” Porter said.

The U.S. government estimates it will receive $3.863 trillion in revenue, which creates a $966 billion deficit. Some economists speculate that the deficit will increase the national debt.

“If these assumptions hold, then the debt would decrease to 66 percent of the gross domestic product, by 2030,” Porter said. “As the CRFP notes, if you utilize the CBO’s economic assumptions and enact the budget as proposed, the deficit increases to $1.2 trillion, or 3.7 percent of GDP, by 2030. The answer to this question is largely to be determined: obviously, increased deficits increase the debt, but to what extent is a function of whose assumptions are right.”

Robert Cruz, vice president of finance for the College Democrats at California State University, Sacramento, said some form of the government funding bill will be passed. However, as a whole, the budget will not be passed without changes. Cruz also brought up potential issues and budget cuts for Medicaid.

“The budget has some good points, as it allocates a good amount for things such as veterans’ health care, but despite the bright spots, it does contain some more troubling cuts,” Cruz said. “Trump’s budget plan would harm the most vulnerable as it cuts funding for Medicaid and other programs that help the less fortunate, as well as students.”

From this point, Congress has until Oct. 1, 2020, to approve the 2021 budget. Porter said he is also doubtful that the budget will get approved in its current form.

“I would not be surprised if significant changes occur in the proposed reforms to mandatory spending programs,” Porter said. “As a few examples among the various possibilities for modification, the proposal tightens requirements for the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), reduces funding for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, ends the Public Loan Service Forgiveness program, and reduces benefits for federal retirees. I’d personally be shocked if any of these four proposals make it through Congress untouched.”

It is too early to determine if disagreement on the budget will cause a government shutdown like in years past. Porter suggested that neither side would want to risk blame for a shutdown amid a presidential election.

“I just don’t foresee either party risking a shutdown of any length before the presidential election, given the way that voters factor economic performance into their voting decisions,” Porter said. “Taking the blame for a shutdown could feed a larger narrative about the ability to manage the economy.”

Cooper Strull, sophomore business administration major, said he believes the proposed budget is Trump’s way of taking a strong political stand.

“Trump is trying to show Republicans where his values are before an election,” Strull said. “I like a lot of the cuts to social programs and the increased amount of money going to the Defense Department. I think there will be a government shutdown because of how divided Washington (D.C.) is right now. (However), I don’t think it will last as long as the one in 2018–2019.”

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