Today, the president will release his Fiscal Year 2018 budget request. The title on the cover reads “A New Foundation for American Greatness.” But it’s what’s inside that’s more important. What people will see there is something that has been missing from Washington for a long time: A Taxpayer First Budget.
It starts with two principles. First, our government works for the American people, not the other way around. Second, our government must be more efficient, more effective and more accountable to the hardworking taxpayers who fund it.
For the first time in nearly a decade, the president has done what every American family or business does each day: balance the books. If Congress follows the president’s plan, our military will be dramatically modernized, our borders will be secured, our laws will be enforced, parents will have more options at schools and the chance to stay home with their newborns — and the budget can still be balanced within the next 10 years.
That is the “New” part of the budget. Because for the past eight years, Americans have been forced to work harder for longer with less money in return. Yet the previous administration mistreated and disrespected those hardworking taxpayers, and instead of an accountable government, gave them out-of-control spending and an incredibly massive federal debt.
Such poor stewardship threatens generations of American prosperity. The previous administration’s economic policies resulted in a near doubling of the national debt, hitting levels that we have not seen since shortly after World War II. This is not a sign of a robust and thriving economy, but of a stagnant nation in malaise.
While our national debt has soared, our economic growth has soured. An “average” healthy American economy grew at 3.5 percent between the late 1940s and 2007. For the last nine years, our economy grew at a staggeringly disappointing 1.3 percent.
This budget stands for the proposition that a stagnant America is not the “new normal.” To admit that, or to even suggest it, as the previous administration did and its supporters still do, is to allow a pessimism about this country that President Trump absolutely rejects.
America must do better. And the “Foundation” of the budget provides a detailed and specific roadmap on how to do that. It combines overall spending restraint with a rebalancing of the money to spend on new priorities.
For years, we’ve focused on how we can help Americans receive taxpayer-funded assistance. Under President Trump’s leadership, we’re now looking at how we can respect both those who require assistance and the taxpayers who fund that support. For the first time in a long time, we’re putting taxpayers first.
Taking money from someone without an intention to pay it back is not debt. It is theft. This budget makes it clear that we will reverse this larceny.
The president’s spending plan will put our country’s budget back into balance and begin to reduce the size of the national debt within the first year of its enactment.
Finally, the “American Greatness” part of the budget is you, the folks who work hard and pay taxes. This budget is for you. It is your government’s — your new government’s — way of thanking those of you who are working two jobs, saving for your kids’ education, or working to buy a home or start your own business. We cannot express our gratitude and respect enough for what you do to make your families, your communities, and this nation work. Americans are the hardest working people who have ever lived. We worked hard to build this country together and will work hard to restore this country together.
So if you left for work this morning in the dark, if you came home after your kids were asleep, if you feel lucky to get overtime pay to support your aging parents or adult children, if you’re working part-time but praying for a full-time job, if your savings are as exhausted as you are, you have not been forgotten. This budget was written for you. This president hears you. And America, because of you, will be great again.
Mick Mulvaney is the director of the Office of Management and budget. He formerly represented South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District as a Republican.