By Tory Newmyer
March 17, 2017

It’s often said in Washington that the best sign of a compromise is a final product that pleases nobody. But what about an initial offer that alienates nearly everybody? President Trump’s first budget serves up plenty to turn off Members of Congress from both parties, ripping into an array of treasured programs, from slashing support for Meals on Wheels to eliminating funding entirely for rural development agencies that aid many of his own voters.

In so doing, the proposal represents a victory of ideology over strategy. It ignores the entitlement growth driving federal spending, a chief concern of conservative deficit hawks, to focus instead on the discretionary budget that makes up a shrinking slice of the pie. In other words, Trump’s blueprint maximizes political pain while minimizing savings gain.

Reactions from Republican lawmakers have been decidedly mixed. A few praised the proposed $54 billion surge in defense funding. More noted, pointedly, that the president proposes and the Congress disposes: They’ll consider the administration’s suggestions but will craft a spending plan that reflects their own prerogatives. That should be fine by the White House. The next budget resolution will fast-track tax reform by allowing it to clear the Senate with a simple majority. And streamlining the tax code presumably remains a higher priority for Trump than, say, cutting home heating assistance to poor people.

Tory Newmyer
@torynewmyer
tory_newmyer@fortune.com

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