The Trump administration has delivered its behemoth $4.5 trillion budget. Even if one accepts the 3 percent GDP growth the administration anticipates (which neither the Federal Reserve nor the Congressional Budget Office does), the plan would not produce an end to the deficit profligacy that is a yawning vulnerability for America’s national security. Even its calculations see deficit spending continue for more than a decade while interest rates magically remain unaffected. There is no averting our eyes: We Republicans have become the party of fiscal insolvency.
But that’s not even the worst part of the 2020 budget proposal. The worst part is that if this plan were enacted—which, to be clear, it never will be—we would be less safe.
The 23 percent cut to State Department funding would accelerate the militarization of our foreign policy, which is already happening to a dangerous degree. Groups such as the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition are parading retired military officers to make stalwart endorsements of spending on diplomacy. That, in many ways, demonstrates the extent of militarization: It ought not take retired generals to validate diplomatic spending.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo relied on hashtags to improve morale. That was embarrassing before the budget; it’s adding insult to diplomatic injury now. He either doesn’t care to equip the State Department with the people and programs that make for vibrant American engagement to shape the world or he is unable to extract sufficient funding from his boss. Or both. My money’s on both.