President's Speech to Congress Overlooks Fiscal Challenges

Press Release
Wednesday, March 01, 2017

WASHINGTON -- The Concord Coalition expressed concern tonight that President Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress failed to discuss in any detail how his administration planned to meet the nation’s key fiscal challenges or finance his new proposals.

“In tonight's speech the president outlined a sharp change in spending priorities but not a plan to cut spending overall,” said Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director. “When combined with his call for large business and personal tax cuts and his previous promises to leave Medicare and Social Security alone, it is hard to see how this fiscal agenda would put the budget on a more responsible path.”

Bixby added: “Economic growth alone will not fill the gap. Trump's first budget, where he actually puts some numbers on his promises, will be a crucial test of how realistic those promises are.”

Trump’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year is scheduled for release in mid-March. That budget should ideally reconcile his costly spending and tax plans with the difficult fiscal challenges facing the country.

To do that, the proposed budget should be complete -- no important elements should be left out or promised for a later time. Such procrastination could relieve policymakers of the need to set priorities and make necessary trade-offs. The president’s budget should have the fullest possible set of numbers covering all of the major categories.

It should also be realistic in terms of projected economic growth, promised savings from rooting out waste and abuse, and the likely costs of addressing key national priorities.

The budget should set an overall fiscal target, as suggested in “Twelve Things to Look for in President Trump’s First Budget,” a recently updated Concord Coalition issue brief. As it notes, this plan will be presented against a backdrop of rising deficits under current law and a national debt that is headed steadily higher as a share of the economy.

Several weeks ago the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government is on course to run up another $9.4 trillion in deficits over the coming decade. So even a proposed budget with realistic plans to pay for new spending programs or tax cuts would be insufficient; the president and Congress must find credible ways to reduce the borrowing that is already projected and put the country on a more sustainable fiscal path.

Media Contact: Steve Winn, (703) 254-7828, [email protected]

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The Concord Coalition is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to fiscal responsibility. Since 1992, Concord has worked to educate the public about the causes and consequences of the federal deficit and debt, and to develop realistic solutions for sustainable budgets. For more fiscal news and analysis, visit concordcoalition.org and follow us on Twitter: @ConcordC