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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Aid cuts and arms hikes aside, how realistic could Trump's budget be?

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Leo Varadkar, Ireland's prime minister, in the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday. Photo Credit: Pool / Bloomberg / Olivier Douliery

Nobody ends up paying too much attention to the opening proposal for a government budget. This is as true in Nassau, Suffolk and New York City as it is in Albany and Washington.

That's because what an executive wishes to add to and slash from the status quo never quite matches what the legislature will approve.

Still, President Donald Trump's new proposal for the 2020 fiscal year states his political priorities. It signals more nasty theatrics over his still-shapeless border wall plan, among other fights.

His proposed cuts to Medicare and food stamps are predictably drawing fire. Those who see value in the programs of the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Health and Human Services and the State Department denounce Trump's proposed cuts to those agencies.

The White House calls for 5 percent cuts to current caps for nonmilitary spending and a further round of big increases for military spending. 

Whatever the eventual details for this year and next, the underpinnings of the plan cause longer-range fiscal concern outside the Capitol. 

The biggest dose of magical thinking in Trump's plan might be found in its projections of how the economy will fare.

Even experts who credit the Trump administration for the current robust state of the American economy consider this estimate as rosy as the White House garden in spring.

That is because his budget proposal sets growth at 3.2 percent in the coming year. Few outside forecasters endorse that high a number. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the Federal Reserve forecast only 2.3 percent.

And while the White House assumes growth continuing at 3 percent a year through 2024, the CBO expects an average of 1.7 percent through 2023. The difference, of course, would have a big impact on federal tax revenues.

One thing the White House does not forecast during perhaps six-plus more years of a Trump presidency is a federal budget anywhere close to balanced.

Trump's plan for fiscal 2020 projects the deficit growing to an eye-popping $1.1 trillion. This would supposedly shrink to $1.07 trillion in 2021 and $1.05 trillion in 2022, then slowly close toward the end of the decade, with heavy dependence on the faith-based ability of corporate tax cuts to pay for themselves in the form of returned revenue. 

Few fiscal experts fall in behind that scenario. Remember when autsterity-minded Republicans and centrist Democrats obsessed over debt and deficits? Those days seem to be over.

This new Trump budget weighs in at a record $4.75 trillion. Old tea party laments about "taxing and spending" are muted if heard at all. Maybe such complaints will intensify from those pushing the social-service cuts or others looking to restrain defense spending.

The national debt, as opposed to the government's year-to-year spending gap, surged last month above $22 trillion.

In 2016, Trump promised to eliminate the whole debt "over a period of eight years." The debt at that time was $19 trillion. The question becomes whether this turns out to be a "budget for a better America," as his aides billed it, or a "budget for a declining America" as some critics already brand it.

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