President's Budget

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block.

Issues of the Day.  The President’s Budget.  If everything goes according to plan, when we enter our next fiscal year, October 1, we will have a budget passed by the Congress with President Trump’s signature.  The process has started.  It is a 4.7 trillion-dollar budget.  President Trump wants an increase in defense spending and a cut in almost all non-defense discretionary programs.  The White House proposal calls for a sharp reduction of 30% for the EPA; 22% cut for Transportation and 15% cut for the Department of Agriculture, Homeland Security, Veteran Affairs and Defense all get a bump up.  And, of course, more money for border security. 

Now before we scream too loud in protest or cheer in support, keep in mind that Presidential budgets are designed to let the public know what the President’s priorities are.  When all is said and done the Congress writes the budget.  Congressional critics are already saying the President’s budget is “dead on arrival.”  From my point of view, a 5% cut across the board in our next budget would be alright with me.  I don’t support another big increase in defense spending either.  We already have, by far, the biggest military in the world, and we are pressing other countries to pay more.

With a closer look at the budget plan for USDA, there are work requirements for food stamp recipients, a reduction in government spending on crop insurance, and conservation programs, and about everything else.  The budget with a 15% cut does not match up very well with the farm bill passed last fall.

Now that we are talking about a budget let’s take a look at the nation’s debt.  The debt level has exceeded 22.2 trillion dollars and is rising.  Both political parties are quick to spend money.  That’s how you get elected.  I understand President’s Trump effort to spend less and maybe someday we could balance our budget.  This debt load will be on the shoulders of our children and grandchildren.

The Congress is supposed to complete the budget by September 30th.  We can expect a brutal political fight in the process.

John Block was Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1981-1985, where he played a key role in the development of the 1985 Farm Bill.  If you would like to review his radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to

Categories: USDA

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