The number of oopsies committed by the Trump administration has grown in recent weeks, from Trump’s possible admissions to obstruction of justice to Trump’s Oval Office conversation with Russian officials that may have weakened America and Israel’s intelligence position against ISIS. Observers concur that these events will have their costs. But none of them have had a literal price tag.
The rollout of Trump’s proposed federal budget — which will cut $800 billion from Medicaid and $192 billion from the food-stamp program — was instantly controversial for seeming a wee bit draconian. But one writer has pointed out that the whole thing literally can’t work.
In a piece for New York magazine — subtitled “literally the largest and stupidest arithmetic mistake in the history of the federal budget” — staff writer Jonathan Chait points out that the proposed budget is predicated on a basic math error to the tune of $2 trillion.
The setup: Trump has promised to balance the budget over a decade despite enacting huge tax cuts. He promises said cuts would generate $2 trillion in economic growth over that time. The problem: “The magic of the Trump tax cuts is also supposed to pay for the Trump tax cuts,” says Chait. “So the $2 trillion is a double-counting error.”
The maximum the budget could generate, if all goes perfectly, is zero. “Perfectly” means that — despite the budget’s basis on a supposition that has never been historically demonstrated — said cuts would generate trillions of dollars in growth, guaranteed.
Put a couple trillion in the oopsie jar, guys.
This is one of several hiccups that accompanied today’s grand budget rollout. When reporters suggested that cuts to Medicaid and food stamps seemed overly severe, budget director Mick Mulvaney suggested they consider the compassion it would show toward the taxpayers who were footing the bill (read: the 1 percent). Separately, a reporter from Russia’s Sputnik news service pointed out that it would cut services to Americans who were children of immigrants. And Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said the budget was “dead on arrival.”
Asked about the double-counting error this afternoon, Treasury Secretary Seth Mnuchin said, “This is a preliminary document that will be refined.”