By Tatijana Rodriguez, TWC Media Intern from Baldwin Wallace University
As the Inauguration moves closer, the students participating in the Inauguration Seminar are learning more about the next steps in the political process as well as getting in depth insights on the issues the incoming administration must address. A key issue that the new administration must focus on is the national budget and debt control.
James Thurber, a professor at American University spoke to students on the individual aspects of the federal budget and specific components of national spending. Thurber first outlined for students what specific roles the President and Congress have in establishing the national budget.
“The President may not spend money unless it’s been authorized and appropriated by the House and the Senate,” Thurber explains. This means that although the President may have specific plans for the budget he has laid out, no money can be spent unless an appropriation committee in both houses of congress has allowed for the spending. Thurber explains that this is the reason that the appropriators are the most powerful legislators. He also explains that becoming part of the committee is difficult and that the Congressmen and Congresswomen must meet certain criteria.
Along with laying out the process of establishing the national budget, Thurber spoke on the national debt that the new administration will inherit. “A rising debt is unfair to future generations,” Thurber says.
But what are the challenges with balancing the budget? Thurber explains that there are three main challenges; First, Americans are increasingly anti-tax, meaning that they are not willing to contribute to the budget. Second, federal spending programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are popular. Third, the cost of federal programs are not compatible with the level of tax most Americans are willing to accept.
What are steps that the new administration and leadership must take to fix the budget?
“You have to do adjusting on all sides,” says Maya MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “Donald Trump is inheriting the worst fiscal situation, as judged by debt relative to the economy, of any President ever, except for President Truman” MacGuineas says.
This discussion on budget policy and how the incoming administration faces this challenge helps students see a different point-of-view. Although the new administration faces harsh criticism, students have a better understanding of challenges Trump will face and how it will affect policy.