The political theater that passes for serious policy debate is about to run into an unfortunate reality as Donald Trump’s budget plan comes face to face with its arch-nemesis: arithmetic.
It’s impossible to cut taxes, increase spending, and balance the budget. That’s not political bluster. That’s math.
Throughout the campaign and since, Trump promised to invest in infrastructure, pass an enormous tax cut, boost military spending, cut “waste, fraud, and abuse,” and protect Social Security and Medicare — and, of course, balance the budget.
This rhetoric has been remarkably effective, the presidential equivalent of offering free ponies for everyone — but even less practical.
Working in Trump’s favor, however, is that many Americans believe things about the federal budget that are simply not true. There’s a lot of misinformation out there.
According to public opinion polls, Americans believe nearly a third of the budget goes to international aid. In reality, it’s less than 1 percent.
A survey of Fox News viewers from 2013 showed nearly half believed most federal debt could be eliminated by “cutting waste and fraud.” It can’t.