White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow says that President Donald Trump will call for a 5 percent “across the board” cut in domestic government spending in 2020 when he proposes his new budget on Monday.
“It will be a tough budget,” Kudlow told the Fox News Sunday show. “We’re going to do our own caps this year and I think it’s long overdue.”
Kudlow said that “some of these recent budget deals have not been favorable towards spending. So, I think it’s exactly the right prescription.”
Trump’s third budget proposal during his presidency, for the year starting in October, is expected to draw wide opposition from Democratic lawmakers and some Republicans, setting off months of debate just weeks after a record 35-day government shutdown over government spending in the current year was ended.
The recent dispute centered on Trump’s demand for more than $5 billion for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to thwart illegal immigration. When Congress rejected Trump’s request, he declared a national emergency to bypass congressional authorization to tap money allocated for other projects to build the wall. Congress is now considering whether to revoke the emergency declaration and 16 states have sued to overturn it.
U.S. news outlets reported Trump will seek at least another $8.6 billion in new wall funding in the 2020 budget. The reports said the budget cuts will not affect popular programs providing health care funding and pensions for older Americans, but will pare other funding for domestic programs while boosting defense outlays.
Kudlow said he expects a new fight over border wall funding.
But he contended that Trump has justified his call for the wall’s construction even though surveys in the U.S. show that a majority of voters oppose it.
“I would just say that the whole issue of the wall and border security is a paramount of importance,” Kudlow said. “We have a crisis down there. I think the president has made that case effectively. It’s a crisis of economics, it’s a crisis of crime and drugs, it’s a crisis of just of humanity.”
For years, U.S. presidents and Congress have squabbled over the budgets, what to spend taxpayer dollars on and the size of the annual deficits, often hundreds of billions of dollars that add to the country’s long-term debt of more than $22 trillion. The current budget is more than $4.4 trillion, with a deficit of about $1 trillion expected, largely because of tax cuts Congress approved a year ago at Trump’s behest.
There are signs the U.S. economy, which grew at a 2.9 percent pace last year, is slowing, but Kudlow said he was not worried by some predictions that say the American economy, the world’s largest, will only advance between 1 and 2 percent in the first three months of the year and that the overall advance for 2019 will be just above 2 percent.
“I’m not going to score it just yet,” Kudlow said. “I’ll take the over on that forecast. As long as we keep our policies intact, low tax rates for individuals and businesses, across the board deregulation, lighten the paperwork, let small businesses breathe and get a good rate of return. The president has ended the war on business. The president has provided incentives for economic growth. we’ve opened up the energy sector. Our policies are strong and I think the growth rate this coming year will exceed these estimates just as they have last year.”
He added, “If the markets were overwhelmingly worried about our budgets and our spending and our deficits, you would see that interest rate rise and be a greater penalty. I don’t see it right now. Long run, we do want to reduce the burden of spending and borrowing, absolutely.”
The U.S. added just 20,000 new jobs in February, but Kudlow described the figure as “a very fluky number,” attributing the weak hiring to the partial government shutdown that ended in late January.
Kudlow said the U.S. is “making good progress” in ongoing trade talks with China although an agreement has not yet been reached.
“As the president said, across the board, the deal has to be good for the United States, for our workers and our farmers and our manufacturers, got to be good,” Kudlow said. “It’s got be fair and reciprocal. It has to be enforceable. That’s an important point.”