Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Russell Vought discusses President Trump's priorities during a press briefing on March 11 at the White House.

Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Russell Vought discusses President Trump's priorities during a press briefing on March 11 at the White House. Tia Dufour/White House

Fleshed-Out Trump Budget Would Cut $48.8 Billion in Program Spending

New documents reflect “aggressive set of actions to redefine” the role of government.

In part two of its unusual bifurcated budget release, the Trump administration on Monday put more flesh on the bones of last week’s $4.7 trillion fiscal 2020 budget, promising discretionary spending cuts of $48.8 billion through an “aggressive set of actions to redefine the proper role of the federal government.”

The release of the analytical and historic tables, appendices and a chapter titled “Major Savings and Reforms,” provides program-level specifics on the previously announced proposed cuts to the budgets of the Environmental Protection Agency (31.2 percent), the State Department (23.3 percent), and the Transportation Department (21.5 percent).

And it shows the Office of Management and Budget assuming that many of its already-announced reorganization plans will go through, such as those at the Office of Personnel Management and the General Services Administration.

“Most of the eliminations and reductions in this volume reflect a continuation of policies proposed in the 2018 and 2019 President's Budgets that have not yet been enacted by the Congress and highlight the administration’s efforts to eliminate wasteful or unnecessary spending,” the introductory document said.

Trump’s vision for 2020 proposes $28 billion in program eliminations and $20.8 billion in reductions—all within the statutory budget caps balancing defense and non-defense spending. Programs to be eliminated include the Health and Human Services Department’s Social Services Block Grant, the State Department’s Food for Progress Food Aid Program, and the Security and Exchange Commission’s Commission Reserve Fund.

Among the agencies Trump would eliminate entirely, as he has attempted previously, are: the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Also on the block are the Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Chemical Safety Board. “While CSB has done some useful work on its investigations, its overlap with other agency investigative authorities has often generated friction,” the budget said.

The new documents provide rationales for past reorganization proposals. They include elevating, beginning in 2020, some of OPM’s policy and workforce strategy functions to the Executive Office of the President, transferring background investigations to the Defense Department, and moving to GSA all remaining OPM services, such as retirement and insurance program administration.

The administration also wants to combine some statistical agencies and relocate the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics to the Commerce Department.

The White House also makes the case to streamline federal hiring: “The administration proposes to partner with Congress to cull the approximately 5,000 statutory and regulatory rules that, over time, have created an incomprehensible, administratively burdensome, and unmanageable civil service system,” the budget said. One proposed reform would arrest the drop-off in internships at federal agencies. “New hires of student interns fell from about 35,000 in 2010 to 4,000 in 2018,” the budget noted, recommending that a current 15 percent cap on direct hires of interns be removed.

The administration offered some praise for the federal workforce in a discussion of the recent 35-day partial government shutdown, citing the Presidential Rank Awards as one means for recognizing employee dedication:

“Hundreds of thousands of federal employees worked without pay, including border patrol agents who guarded entry-points; air traffic controllers who kept the skies safe; transportation security officers who protected passengers; Coast Guard officers who patrolled the waterways; and law enforcement officers at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and U.S. Secret Service who continued to serve and protect the country.”

Focus on CAP Goals

The proposed reorganization of OPM, the budget notes, supports six of the administration’s 14 cross-agency priority goals tracked on Performance.gov, including building the workforce of the 21st century, information technology modernization, improving customer experience, sharing services, shifting form low-value to high-value work and realigning security clearances.

Another cross-agency priority goal receiving detailed treatment in the budget is the decades-long effort reduce the government’s improper payments in such programs as Medicare at HHS and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) at the Agriculture Department. Sample proposals include expanding access to data used by the Treasury Department’s Do Not Pay Initiative, giving OMB the authority to adjust the dollar threshold of what counts as a “significant” improper payment, and requiring managers of high-priority programs to meet with the White House budget director at least yearly to discuss actions taken.

In evaluating program effectiveness, the administration continues to push for evidence-based policymaking, citing the 2018 law on the topic that requires agencies to designate an evaluation officer and to create a multi-year learning agenda. “We must continue to build comprehensive portfolios of evidence across the federal government in order to learn what is working and where to improve,” it said.

One area where past administrations are credited is the long-standing effort to better manage and dispose of unneeded federal real property. More recent actions have included OMB’s July 18 move to reconstitute the Federal Real Property Council made up of senior agency officers. The document praised “smart decisions” such as those that “reduce [offices’] square footage and consolidate into federally owned space, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics moving from an expiring lease to the GSA-owned Suitland (Md.) Federal Center and reducing the BLS footprint by more than 340,000 square feet.”

Exploding Deficits

In pushing a budget that, overall, would cut $2.7 trillion in spending over a decade, the administration warns of projected annual deficits that ”are on the verge of exceeding $1 trillion a year,” observing that “the national debt is over $22 trillion.”

In response to critics who note that those numbers have risen under Trump, in part because of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the 2020 budget assumes economic growth that differs, it notes, from “forecasts prepared around the same time by the Congressional Budget Office, the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve, and the Blue Chip panel of private-sector forecasters.”

But the White House forecast “assumes full implementation of these proposals,” it argues. “At the opposite end of the spectrum, CBO produces a forecast that assumes no changes to current law.” The private-sector Blue Chips, it added, “are marked by considerable heterogeneity across individual forecasters and their policy expectations.”

Among the critics of the Trump budget is the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. After last week’s release of the fiscal 2020 topline numbers, its analysts said, “The president’s budget estimates it would reduce debt to 71 percent of Gross Domestic Product and deficits to $202 billion (0.6 percent of GDP) under its policies. A more realistic assessment suggests that debt under this budget would actually rise to 88 percent of GDP, and deficits would remain around $1 trillion per year.”

In shifting its spending priorities to raise the budgets of agencies such as the Defense Department, NASA and Homeland Security, the Trump team—surprisingly for an administration that speaks often of shrinking government—projects that the size of the federal workforce would actually grow. The historical tables say the total of 2 million civilian employees in fiscal 2018 is estimated to rise to 2.1 million in fiscal 2019 and 2.2 million in fiscal 2020—the highest on record going back to 1981.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.