US Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R) applaud as US President Donald J. Trump (C) arrives to deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress from the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, DC, USA, 28 February 2017. Traditionally the first address to a joint session of Congress by a newly-elected president is not referred to as a State of the Union.

The Second Step the President Needs to Take

I think the President’s initial budget roll out is good. This one, I’m told, is a fairly abridged document and budget plan, which is customary for new administrations. In a few months the White House will roll out a broader, more substantive plan. When they do, they still need to tackle entitlement reforms.

As I noted earlier, the President wants to eliminate 18 federal agencies, but that savings is only $3 billion. To really reduce the size and scope of the federal government and balance the budget, the President is going to have to reform medicare and social security. There is no other way toward fiscal solvency.

President Trump said he was not going to touch entitlements. The reality is that entitlements have to be touched. If he does not, he will be starved of funding for his other priorities or he will drive up the national debt even more than President Obama.

Mick Mulvaney, the head of the Office of Management and Budget, took a bold and firm stand against the debt ceiling increase while in Congress and is going to have to take the humiliating step of now asking Congress to raise the debt ceiling for President Trump. He should only have to do that once. He should be able to go with a budgetary roadmap putting the nation on the path to fiscal discipline through entitlement and other reforms so further increases are unnecessary.

President Clinton and a Republican Congress balanced the federal budget. President Bush had to deal with a war and President Obama had an economic mess and was a tax and spend liberal anyway. President Trump has promised something different. He has promised a shake up of the status quo. The best way to shake it up is to balance the budget and impose fiscal discipline. That requires entitlement reform.

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Erick Erickson

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