OMB Acting Director Russ Vought: Spending addiction threatens American economic resurgence

Over the past two years, President Trump has unleashed the American economy through his taxpayer-first, pro-growth policies. Passing historic tax reform, cutting back unnecessary Washington regulations, and strengthening domestic energy policies has put the nation on an accelerated path to economic prosperity. Since the election the American economy has gained 5.3 million new jobs, as this administration’s policies have lowered consumer price growth, put more money in everyday American’s pockets, and vastly improved the economic health of the nation.

Yet, America’s return to prosperity is under attack.


It is no secret that our nation’s $22 trillion debt, which nearly doubled under the Obama administration, is unsustainable. The Congressional Budget Office warned just weeks ago that, if left unchecked, our national debt would “reduce national saving and income, boost the government’s interest payments, limit lawmakers’ ability to respond to unforeseen events, and increase the likelihood of a fiscal crisis.”

Understanding this threat, President Trump on Monday unveils A Budget for a Better America; a new outline for government spending that invests in critical national priorities while restraining spending to give taxpayers the best value for their tax dollar. In total, the president’s 2020 Budget keeps his promise of a 5 percent cut to non-defense discretionary spending, reduces deficits by over $2.7 trillion over 10 years, and balances the budget in 15 years, by 2034.

Since his first year in office, and again in the budget we are laying out, President Trump has pushed for more reductions to wasteful Washington spending than any other president in history. Unfortunately, Congress has repeatedly ignored these taxpayer savings and plowed ahead with irresponsible budgets that increase our deficits and size of government. This needs to stop.

It’s not that Americans are taxed too little, it’s that Washington spends too much.

The president’s budget was written with the everyday American taxpayer in mind. All across the country, hardworking taxpayers have to balance their household budgets, finding ways to do more with less and save for the future. Our federal agencies and departments should be held to the same level of responsibility and accountability.

Throughout the process of creating this budget, the administration identified a number of wasteful, duplicative, and ineffective programs that should not be funded by your tax dollars.

The Department of Labor Inspector General found fraud and abuse within the Senior Community Service Employment Program where its largest grantee misused nearly $4.2 million in taxpayer funds on unreasonable executive compensation, personal travel, and even Netflix subscriptions.

For instance, $68 million is being spent every year on international labor activities, including promoting unions in countries in South America. The Department of Labor Inspector General found fraud and abuse within the Senior Community Service Employment Program where its largest grantee misused nearly $4.2 million in taxpayer funds on unreasonable executive compensation, personal travel, and even Netflix subscriptions. Over $600 million is spent a year on 85 education and cultural exchange programs, despite the fact that only 1 percent of the 1 million international students that came to the U.S. in the 2017-2018 academic year came through one of these programs. And the government spends $35,000 per student – more than tuition at many universities – to send tens of thousands of youth to poorly run Job Corps centers. These centers are ineffective at helping participants get jobs and allowed nearly 14,000 safety and security incidents in 2017 alone—including 31 deaths, over 2,000 violent assaults, and nearly 4,000 drug-related incidents. This has to stop.

President Trump’s budget would restructure, reduce, and in many cases eliminate wasteful discretionary programs. Recognizing the long-term implications of mandatory program spending, the budget includes more than $1.9 trillion in savings and reforms over ten years while extending the solvency of these programs and keeping our promise to America’s seniors.

By refocusing the budget to spend taxpayer dollars more efficiently and effectively, agencies will be able to more adequately provide necessary services to the American people. And key national priorities like the following will continue to be met:

Restoring Our Military. The budget includes $750 billion for national defense to support the rebuilding of our military. This provides the resources necessary to support the National Defense Strategy, including funding for the largest pay increase in a decade for our military, procurement of 12 battle force ships and 110 fighter aircraft, and creation of the United States Space Force.

Securing Our Border. To adequately secure our border and ensure the safety and security of the American people, the budget includes $8.6 billion for construction of the border barrier, and $506 million to hire over 2,800 additional law enforcement officers and critical support personnel at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).


Investing in the Next Generation. It is essential to this administration and to the future of the nation that we properly educate the future leaders of America. The president’s FY 2020 Budget makes significant investments in school safety, school choice, and workforce development. In addition, the president’s budget seeks to make institutions of higher education more accountable for the value they provide to their students by sharing the financial responsibility of student loan repayment.

A Budget for America’s Future reinforces the pro-growth policies that have led to historic job growth and prosperity, cuts wasteful spending, and balances in 15 years. It’s time for Congress to come to the table, work with the president, and rein in Washington’s spending addiction.