The “rescission”’ bill the GOP-controlled House of Representatives passed Thursday night is the just latest example of what Donald Trump thinks of anything and everything related to the federal budget: It’s just one big public relations stunt.
According to the superlative-loving Trump, this rescission – a presidential proposal for Congress to “unappropriate” previously enacted spending – is the biggest ever requested by any president.
But that’s only true if, as he’s doing, Trump takes credit for the bill’s unreal and unrealistic top line…what budget wonks call “budget authority.”
Trump is actually mostly proposing to cut appropriations that were never going to be spent anyway. Even if its enacted, the real impact of the Trump rescission on the federal deficit and national debt will be about 93 percent less than he’s claiming, or only about $1 billion.
A billion dollars is definitely worth saving. But even this much smaller amount overstates the savings from the Trump proposal because it’s not going to be enacted. The Senate GOP leadership has already indicated it has no plans to consider the rescission bill and the legislation would face a virtually certain filibuster anyway if were debated.
That means the most likely impact on the federal deficit and national debt from the Trump rescission plan is…wait for it…$0.
This most recent fiscal escapade is just latest in what has already become a steady series of total budget stunts by the Trump administration.
Trump’s first fiscal 2018 “budget” only covered about one-third of all federal spending, didn’t mention revenues, didn’t project the deficit or debt and didn’t even include an economic forecast. Not surprisingly, it was ignored by Congress.
Trump’s first full 2018 budget, which was released with lots of fanfare, was also ignored by the Republican House and Senate when the White House walked away from it just a few days after it was released.
The fiscal 2019 budget Trump sent to Congress earlier this year was abandoned so quickly by the White House that it wasn’t even a topic of discussion on that weekend’s political talk shows.
And who could ever forget the spectacle from this past March when Trump signed the fiscal 2018 omnibus appropriation and then minutes later angrily announced that he should have never done it.
That brings us back to the rescission bill stunt.
In response to harsh criticism on Fox News and elsewhere, Trump promised that he would look into ways to cut the domestic spending in the 2018 omnibus appropriation his signature had just enacted. The rescission bill was supposed to be just that: reductions in the spending that bill provided.
But it wasn’t.
In spite of Trump’s post-signing tantrum, his rescission proposals didn’t touch even a dollar of what was included in the omnibus. As noted above, he instead proposed totally meaningless cuts to other programs and then took credit for what he said is a historic budget achievement that in reality is anything but significant.