February 13, 2018

Breaking down the president's budget

Topic: Issues

February 13, 2018: The hand-wringing has already begun about President Trump's budget, but the tough conversation about our national debt is a conversation that we must have.

Download the President's Budget mp3

Read the transcript:

Let the hand-wringing begin. Which is what usually happens after a president puts out their budget. And this week, President Trump put out his budget and infrastructure plan.

Let’s start off first and foremost saying that most agriculture groups are in favor of his infrastructure proposal. The increase in funding for those much-needed things that government should be involved in: the transportation, the transit that we use, whether it’s railroads, highways, the barges. So that’s a positive.

Now, where the hand-wringing comes in, is the debate of whether the changes he’s proposed in the budget for USDA are positive or negative. And it depends on how you look at it. There are some positive things in there of taking some market distorting things away, such as making sure CRP payments are only 80 percent of the local rental payment, so that we’re not competing directly with the government to rent land, especially for beginning farmers. So that can be looked at, as a positive.

There are those out there, though, that are looking at the cuts in the crop insurance subsidy as a negative. But what has to be highlighted out of this is a statement by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. He stated that this is the conversation that needed to be happening. More or less, he’s saying we can’t kick the can down the road anymore without addressing some of these issues.

Yeah, maybe the cuts don’t need to be as stiff as what the president proposed, and quite frankly, a president’s budget is just that: the president’s budget. Never has Congress just adopted a president’s budget. They’re going to do their own work. In fact, Chairman Mike Conaway has said they will still do their work putting together a farm bill for the American people, both farmers and ranchers and consumers.

A president’s budget is more to get the conversation started to address those tough issues. And that is something that we need to do in this country, because we must prioritize. Remember, we’re 20 trillion dollars in debt. Prioritizing should have happened 19.9 trillion dollars ago. So, as Secretary Perdue has said, they will take the budget that they are given and manage it responsibly.

I think we’re pretty comfortable knowing that good dialogue will always come to better legislation for the America people, and yes, hopefully address our ever-growing debt. That discussion is long overdue.

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