Budget Battle

By Isaac Cohen*

The presentation of a federal budget outline by President Donald Trump, to a joint session of Congress, is the opening salvo of a battle that will decide which campaign promises will become real, because money will be allocated for their accomplishment.

So far, five weeks of intense activity have led to the approval by the White House of 25 memorandums and executive orders. Some of them were symbolic, others were procedural, one was challenged in court, while another is leading to increased deportations. However, the big items in the presidential agenda, such as infrastructure spending, tax reform and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, are still untouched because all of them require legislative approval.

According to the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the President will propose an increase in military spending and will not propose changes in the largest programs, such as Social Security and Medicare. By contrast, reductions will be proposed in other discretionary spending, such as the budgets of the Environmental Protection Agency, or the State Department.

The president’s budget proposal will be released in March and the main priorities remain the reform of the tax code and the replacement of the Affordable Care Act. The $1 trillion plan to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure will have to wait until 2018. As declared by the leader of the Senate majority Mitch McConnell, “I hope we avoid a trillion-dollar stimulus.”

*International analyst and consultant. Commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio, UNIVISION, TELEMUNDO and other media. Former Director, UNECLAC Washington.

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