Posted: May 24, 2017
The National Council of Nonprofits released an analysis of President Trump's fiscal year 2018 budget proposal yesterday. The Nonprofit Association of Oregon is disseminating this analysis in its entirety. We encourage NAO members to take time to understand the breadth and scope of the proposals for cuts to important services, many delivered by nonprofits. While these cuts give an important view into what the Trump Administration believes is important for the U.S., we remind everyone that the proposals are only a part of the process and the final budget will come from the legislative branch. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) put yesterday’s release in perspective: “I hope that people don’t panic over the President’s — any President’s — budget. They’re just suggestions.” We also suggest that Oregon nonprofits not panic, but be vigilant and reach out to your legislative representatives to express your thoughts on the importance of programs that have been suggested for cuts. Be sure to get your voices heard!
Analysis by: National Council of Nonprofits
Fiscal Year 2018 Federal Budget Proposal
White House Releases FY 2018 Budget Requests
On May 23, the White House made the first full move in the multi-step annual federal budget process by releasing a $4.1 trillion budget blueprint for Fiscal Year 2018 that begins on October 1. Every President’s budget is essentially a wish-list of spending and policy priorities sent to Congress for the remaining steps – approval of a budget resolution that sets spending levels, passage of 12 appropriations bills, and enactment of a budget reconciliation bill that can address hard-to-pass measures such as health care reform and a comprehensive tax overhaul.
As with all White House budget blueprints, it begins with a ten-year scope before focusing on the next Fiscal Year. Broadly, the Trump budget proposal asserts that, if enacted by Congress, federal spending would be cut by $4.5 trillion over a decade and the deficit would go down by $5.6 trillion over that period, potentially producing a slight surplus in 2027. It assumes increasing revenues — even with cuts in tax rates — of $1 trillion. On the spending side, the blueprint calls for increasing defense spending by $500 billion and reducing nondefense discretionary spending, the bucket that funds many programs performed by nonprofits, by $1.5 trillion over the next decade. These cuts include $274 billion in cuts over 10 years to means-tested anti-poverty programs, including food stamps, student loans, and other anti-poverty programs.
The budget proposal claims to reach a balanced budget by 2027 through a number of assumptions. It assumes steady inflation of two percent, an unemployment rate of 4.8 percent, and a growth rate in the gross domestic product of three percent, a rate that economists on the left and right say is overly-optimistic. The Federal Reserve projects the economy will grow at a 1.8 percent annual rate in the coming years, and the Congressional Budget Office projects 1.9 percent growth. Read the Budget Message to Congress, Budget Summary, Major Savings and Reforms, and Appendices.
As the budget was being prepared for delivery to Congress, numerous former and current policymakers expressed doubts about how much of the President’s plan would be enacted into law. According to the New York Times, David A. Stockman, a former budget director under President Ronald Reagan, said, “This budget is dead before arrival, so he might as well be out of town,” referring to the President’s international travels this week. Current Representative and former House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) told the Wall Street Journal, “It’ll face a tough sled over here.” According to the Washington Post, Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC), chairman of the very conservative House Freedom Caucus, said “Meals on Wheels, even for some of us who are considered to be fiscal hawks, may be a bridge too far,” speaking of proposed cuts to nutrition programs. Finally, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) put today’s news in perspective: “I hope that people don’t panic over the president’s — any president’s — budget. They’re just suggestions.”
FY 2018 Budget Proposal Details
The Office of Management and Budget released nearly 2,000 pages of materials today and it will take weeks to sort through all of the winners and losers in the President’s plans. Staffers for 24 appropriations subcommittees in Congress are poring over the details as you read this, making notes on what will and won’t fly with Representatives and Senators. Here is a first look:
Proposed Spending Increases
- Defense: As announced in March, the budget proposes a $54 billion increase in defense spending in 2018. Current law sets defense and nondefense spending at roughly the same level each year, so to secure the extra defense spending, the President proposes to take $54 billion away from many domestic programs.
- Border: The President requests $4.4 billion in new border security and enforcement funding. This includes an additional $2.6 billion for new border infrastructure and surveillance technology and $1.5 billion for deportations and detention.
- Paid Family Leave: The budget proposal asks for an increase in mandatory spending of $19 billion during the next decade to establish a paid family leave program. The proposal, if approved by Congress, calls for six weeks of paid family leave for all new parents, including those who adopt.
- School Choice: The funding proposed for the Education Department would shift an additional $1.4 billion to school choice initiatives, including a $168 million increase for charter schools, and $250 million for a new private school choice program.
Proposed Spending Cuts
- Medicaid: The Trump budget would offer states the option of agreeing to a cap in funding based on how many people are enrolled in Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care to low-income Americans, or accept a “block grant” structure that gives them more flexibility in how to spend the dollars. Either way, the budget proposes to cut $800 billion over 10 years.
- SNAP: The White House is proposing to cut $193 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, over the next decade by phasing in a requirement that states match federal funding for the program. Some are speculating that this approach would put more pressure on the states to limit eligibility for food stamps and to impose work requirements. See Feeding America statement.
- TANF: The plan proposes cutting $21 billion through changes to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which allocates grant funding to states to help assist individuals who are either pregnant or caring for a minor child
- Low-Income Tax Credits: The Administration hopes to reduce spending on the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit by $40 billion, in part by requiring proof that recipients are authorized to work in the United States.
- IRS: The blueprint would reduce the Internal Revenue Service budget to close to fiscal 2008 levels, a 4.1 percent drop from the enacted level in fiscal 2017. The budget anticipates about 5,400 job cuts out of a total workforce of 77,000, amounting to about seven percent of IRS employees.
- Student Loans: Of great interest to nonprofit employees and employers, the budget proposes cutting $143 billion from student-loan programs through elimination of subsidized student loans and public service loan forgiveness which help low- and moderate-income students afford college. The budget also proposes creating a single income-driven student loan repayment plan and relocating some mandatory Pell funding to support year-round discretionary Pell Grants.
- Targeted for Elimination: The budget proposal calls for zero or “orderly closeout” funding for numerous programs and line items that support the work of charitable nonprofits. Here is a partial list:
- Block Grants targeted for elimination
- Corporation for National and Community Service (no new grant funds, Appendix p. 1133-34) See Voices for National Services statement
- Corporation for Public Broadcasting ($30 million, Appendix p. 1137)
- Institute of Museum and Library Service ($23 million, Appendix p. 1175) See American Alliance of Museums statement
- Legal Services Corporation ($33 million, Appendix p. 1179)
- National Endowment for the Arts ($29 million, Appendix p. 1191-1193)
- National Endowment for the Humanities ($42.3 million, Appendix p. 1193-94