The proposed $4.8 trillion budget proposal from President Donald Trump is being praised for tackling national debt, and for attacking waste and fraud, but a conservative think tank is raising concerns about the proper role of government.
After poring over the 2021 budget proposal, Romina Boccia of The Heritage Foundation says the proposal aims to reduce the national debt and reach a balanced budget by 2035, and also reduce the growth in federal spending.
Boccia, a leading fiscal and economic expert at the respected think tank, further says Democrats are wrong to claim the budget plan is dramatically cutting programs such as Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare.
"What the president's budget actually does is reduces waste, fraud, and abuse, and allows Medicaid to function better,” Boccia advises. “There are some good governance reforms Medicare spending would still grow at six percent annually. Medicaid would grow at three percent annually. But the benefits would be targeting those individuals that need the most when it comes to Medicaid, and also encouraging more labor force participation among eligible populations."
In terms of Medicare, Boccia says these are really reforms to how doctors and hospitals get paid, as well as what Medicare pays for drugs and how that program works to reduce misspending, improper spending and allow those programs to work better for their beneficiaries, which would actually reduce premiums for seniors.
"So, overall,” she summarizes, “this is a good policy change."
Heritage: Education a state, local issue
However, what Boccia and The Heritage Foundation remain concerned about a federal school choice tax credit that is included in the budget plan.
Why? Because education should be a state and local issue, Heritage contends, that is not overseen in Washington, D.C.
“While we are very supportive of school choice as a policy, that is something that rests in the purview of states and localities,” Boccia explains. “The federal government should not be encroaching on this space because it will surely follow with more federal regulation and control over education policy, which is the opposite of what we need in this space."
Another policy Heritage finds "troubling" is the president's budget would provide funds for states to set up paid family and medical leave programs through their unemployment insurance.
That should be done through the private sector, Boccia tells OneNewsNow, where two-thirds of employees can already take advantage of those benefits.
“And we're very concerned that federal funding for states to set up these programs will actually crowd out the effective private sector provision,” she warns, “that is just so much more valuable for workers because it's more flexible and can respond to their needs better."
Lastly, while Heritage was "excited" to see the president's budget extend the individual tax cuts from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act past 2025 when they're supposed to expire, Boccia says the plan forgot to include expensing, which allows businesses to write up the cost of new investments right way.
"That is a really critical policy that allows businesses to invest in new machinery, capital, equipment, and that actually grows wages for workers by making them more productive," Boccia explains. "So that's a policy we would like to see the president add in his next budget."