| WASHINGTON, March 16
WASHINGTON, March 16 It's not unusual for a
newly minted White House to present what's known as a "skinny
budget," a wish-list of spending requests for Congress and some
basic economic projections.
However, President Donald Trump's first crack at the budget,
released on Thursday, took "skinny" to a new, anemic level as he
laid out his plans for boosting military spending, cutting
foreign aid and slashing an array of domestic programs.
Spreadsheets are out. Bullet points are in. Weighing in at a
mere 53 pages, and containing only four slender tables, Trump's
budget put very little meat on the bones for experts hungry to
dive into the details of the new administration's fiscal policy.
That may make it the skinniest skinny budget, by far, when
compared with the 40 years of presidential budgets in transition
years tracked by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).
When President Jimmy Carter took office, his first budget
document was 101 pages, the CRS said.
President George H.W. Bush's first take was 193 pages, and
President George W. Bush's was around the same length, at 207
President Bill Clinton's first budget document was 145
pages, while President Barack Obama's initial take was a leaner
The difference is in focus. Trump's budget looks only at
"discretionary" programs for the year ahead, accounting for only
about a third of the overall budget.
It makes no assumptions about "mandatory" spending on
programs like Social Security or Medicare, says nothing about
spending beyond fiscal 2018, and gives no projections about how
promised tax cuts and infrastructure spending might affect the
nation's bottom line.
"This is a budget blueprint, not a complete budget," said
Trump's budget director Mick Mulvaney, ahead of its release,
promising a full buffet of data, forecasts, and details in the
full budget in mid-May.
To be sure, budget experts were not expecting a hefty
document. The Trump administration had hinted it would be on the
thin side of skinny.
"It could be emaciated," Robert Bixby, executive director of
the Concord Coalition, a non-partisan budget reform advocacy
group, said in an interview on Tuesday.
"At some point, you've got to put your cards on the table,
and show some numbers," Bixby said.
Kenneth Baer, a former associate director in Obama's Office
of Management and Budget, said an overly skinny budget would
make it hard to interpret how the Trump administration would
spend taxpayers' money.
"It's sort of like building a house, but only putting up the
front door," Baer said.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Paul Tait)