Trump puts extra skinny into his 'skinny
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[March 16, 2017]
By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - It's not unusual for
a newly minted White House to present what's known as a "skinny budget,"
a wish-list of spending requests for Congress and some basic economic
However, President Donald Trump's first crack at the budget, released on
Thursday, took "skinny" to a new, anemic level as he laid out his plans
for boosting military spending, cutting foreign aid and slashing an
array of domestic programs.
Spreadsheets are out. Bullet points are in. Weighing in at a mere 53
pages, and containing only four slender tables, Trump's budget put very
little meat on the bones for experts hungry to dive into the details of
the new administration's fiscal policy.
That may make it the skinniest skinny budget, by far, when compared with
the 40 years of presidential budgets in transition years tracked by the
Congressional Research Service (CRS).
When President Jimmy Carter took office, his first budget document was
101 pages, the CRS said.
President George H.W. Bush's first take was 193 pages, and President
George W. Bush's was around the same length, at 207 pages.
President Bill Clinton's first budget document was 145 pages, while
President Barack Obama's initial take was a leaner 134 pages.
The difference is in focus. Trump's budget looks only at "discretionary"
programs for the year ahead, accounting for only about a third of the
It makes no assumptions about "mandatory" spending on programs like
Social Security or Medicare, says nothing about spending beyond fiscal
2018, and gives no projections about how promised tax cuts and
infrastructure spending might affect the nation's bottom line.
"This is a budget blueprint, not a complete budget," said Trump's budget
director Mick Mulvaney, ahead of its release, promising a full buffet of
data, forecasts, and details in the full budget in mid-May
[to top of second column]
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters aboard Air Force One as
they approach Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. March 15, 2017.
To be sure, budget experts were not expecting a hefty document. The
Trump administration had hinted it would be on the thin side of
"It could be emaciated," Robert Bixby, executive director of the
Concord Coalition, a non-partisan budget reform advocacy group, said
in an interview on Tuesday.
"At some point, you've got to put your cards on the table, and show
some numbers," Bixby said.
Kenneth Baer, a former associate director in Obama's Office of
Management and Budget, said an overly skinny budget would make it
hard to interpret how the Trump administration would spend
"It's sort of like building a house, but only putting up the front
door," Baer said.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Paul Tait)
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