As we have moved through this month’s lifeskill, Recordkeeping, our national focus has been on how business and our bureaucracy could actually help each other not just stay within budget but also thrive. We moved through ten characteristics of a successful business and wondered how they could apply to our nation’s government.
Those characteristics included Leadership, Business Culture, Financial Literacy, Structure & Systems, Skill Development, Everyone sells, Work Environment, Compensation, Brand Identity, and Community Service. And when talking about financial literacy, we just couldn’t ignore how our nation’s 20 trillion dollar debt looms over us all. Just as every family needs to strive to stay within a budget and reduce as much debt as possible, so, goes our nation.
Yet, every time the government hits its debt limit and Congress must do something between March 16 and Fall 2017 prior to default. Congress (historically both Democrat and Republican) then always finds it essential to increase that debt limit so our government won’t shut down and default on its current obligations, particularly the interest on the national debt, Medicare, and Social Security. How do you think Congress will handle it this time around?
Here’s another question: “As the interest on the debt mounts, how does President Trump’s 2018 budget handle reducing this enormous debt burden?” As of March 16, the first Trump 2018 budget rolled out. According to Terence P. Jeffrey, Trump's Budget Director: ‘Our $20 Trillion National Debt is a Crisis (CNS News, March 16, 2017), quoting Mick Mulvaney, Director of Office of Management and Budget, “The president’s commitment to fiscal responsibility is historic . . . Not since early in President Reagan’s first term have more tax dollars been saved and more government inefficiency and waste been targeted. Every corner of the federal budget is scrutinized, every program tested, every penny of taxpayer money watched over . . . Our $20 trillion national debt is a crisis, not just for the nation, but for every citizen . . . Each American’s share of the debt is more than $60,000 and growing . . . It is a challenge of great stakes, but one the American people can solve.” Other cuts from programs, such as the National Endowment for the Arts and others, will come with “redefining the proper role of the federal government.”
I would imagine for some who just read about cutting the National Endowment for the Arts, you may be recoiling, “No way.” And there may be some who say our $20 trillion debt isn’t a crisis at all and is simply the way government has always run and will continue to run. The numbers will just be shifted around depending on who is in the White House and Congress.
According to Jeanne Sahadi, Trump budget bemoans $20 trillion debt but does bupkus about it (CNNMoney, March 16, 2017), the first 2018 budget rollout of the largest nondefense cut ($54 billion) will actually being added to defense spending programs. Supposedly, more detail budget cuts will come in May. Basically, the initial redirects seem to include a 21% cut in both Labor and Agriculture, 29% cut in State Department, 31% cut for the EPA; with a corresponding 9% increase for Defense, 7% for Homeland Security, and 6% for Veterans Affairs.
It was surprising for many that the first budget rollout didn’t include cuts where the largest spending occurs, which are Entitlements. Yet, with Obamacare repeal/replace plans, those cuts may show up there whenever the process will be resurrected. We will all watch with “baited breath!” In the meantime, let’s see what this coming May holds for more of Trump’s 2018 budget and our next month’s lifeskill, Possessions. I wonder how our nation’s emerging budget and debt will affect our own ability to hold on to our purse and possessions!?